FiiO UTWS3

General Information

https://www.fiio.com/utws3

>Qualcomm QCC3020 Bluetooth Chip.

>TWS+Low Latency Technology.

>AptX Loss Less Support.

>MMCX/0.78mm Connectors.

>Independent Amps.

>Application Support.

>High-Capacity Charging Case.

>30 Hours Battery Life.

FiiO UTWS3 is the latest pair of truly wireless connectors for your Hi-Fi IEMs. Now enjoy your beloved Hi-Fi earphones wirelessly with the help of FiiO UTWS3. It takes your musical experience to an all-new level with TWS+ dual transmission low latency technology.

Latest reviews

FiiO UTWS3 – universal, functional and wireless
Pros: Great logics, comfortable fit, best formfactor, universal for IEMs and earbuds, good output power, good sound quality
Cons: Would be better to stick to MMCX option with MMCX->2pin adapter


Another look at Bluetooth wireless receiver from a different perspective (means another formfactor). This market is trending and so many options are available that it is hard to make the right choice from the very first try. We’ve already been playing with TWS IEMs, Bluetooth neckband wires and standalone devices but not the “ear hook” type DAC/amps. Seen those couple of times before on sales but not from a trusted brand or a supplier. Although, such formfactor always looked promising and intrigued with the possible comfortable fit, battery capacity and max. power potential due to a larger compartments and its universality for different types of IEMs. To be honest, looking at the picture of such type of product, we are not making another idol: yes, it should be better than any other all-in-one TWS or Bluetooth receiver in certain aspects, its universality would stay limited to several IEM shapes or connection types and the product would be worthy to try only after it has passed several iterations and came to a stage of maturity…



With all that in mind, FiiO UTWS3 was kind of a surprise – coming from a well-known portable audio brand, full of features and impressive specs. For us, the most important is that this product represents the next iteration with heavy upgrades to its predecessor – original FiiO UTWS (UTWS1). At least, it means heavy usage, collecting feedback, thinking over, bug fixing, improving and upgrading various aspects, both software and hardware which eventually leads to a better product with polished user experience. Whether it is that mature already? – we would tell in the conclusion. Meanwhile, here is some infromation about the company, a small flashback to FiiO UTWS history and the idea behind its new version:

First of all, about FiiO brand in short:
Guangzhou FiiO Electronics Technology Co., Ltd. was established in 2007 by several former senior staff and tech experts of OPPO, which is a high-tech enterprise focusing on researching and developing portable music products, with current main products being Hi-Res music players, headphone amplifiers&DAC, and headphones/earphones.
There are over 300 employees in total, including a core team with nearly 30 years of R&D experience in audio products, an R&D engineer crew dedicated to software, hardware, industrial design, structure and electroacoustics. The production factory covers an area of 3500 square meters, including an all-new updated dust-free workshop and 4 two-way assembling production lines, with an annual production of up to 1 million pcs.
FiiO specializes in self-research and development, and sells FiiO-branded products through sales agents worldwide which cover 5 continents spanning 65 countries and regions. Since its establishment, FiiO has built a good brand reputation in the industry. In Nov. 2017, the Headphone Branch of China Audio Industry Association was found, while FiiO was honored to join and elected to be the vice-chairman; 3 years in a row from 2017 to 2019, FiiO has been on the Top 10 HIFI Headphone and Digital Audio Brand list, as well as Chinese Top 20 Cutting-Edge IP Enterprise and Guangzhou Little Giant Enterprise of Science and Innovation; By virtue of outstanding product designs, FiiO has received 47 valid patents, including 2 invention categories, and countless well-known awards, including iF Design Award, Reddot Award, EISA Award, VGP Award, and Spring/Autumn Headphone Festival Award.
FiiO has been continuously carrying on the music proposition of “Born for Music”, placing great importance on user needs and ceaselessly pursuing perfection in product design and manufacturing, to supply users with the best audio products at the best prices.
FiiO has already been long involved into Bluetooth audio devices and released full bunch of products with different usage scenarios in mind:
  • BTR series Bluetooth AMPs (for use with a smartphone, PCs, etc with the regular IEMs or headphones)
  • FB1 IEMs with integrated neckband Bluetooth cable
  • EH3NC Bluetooth overheads with noise cancelling feature
  • TWS IEMs (popular model of the trending market)
  • UTWS1 – Bluetooth ear hooks to use with any IEMs


Considering the popularity of UTWS1 (and its shortcomings on the other hand after some heavy usage) – FiiO has decided to give it a new birth when the product would be free of any previous bugs and inconvenience. Initially, UTWS1 were based on the third-party product that already had some hardware limitations in its core. Therefore, the new generation was decided to be given in-house design, research, development and production processes. The main points of concern (i.e. upgrades) during UTWS3 development were the introduction of independent amplifier, significant increase of the output power and decrease in noise floor, more convenient charging scheme and longer battery life, better noise cancelling ability, IPX4 protection, new volume and power cycle logics and dedicated control application. All of that eventually leads to much better ergonomics and user experience. As far as we are concerned, all of the known and reported issues and inconvenience of the first generation UTWS1 were addressed and claimed to be resolved.



To finalize about the difference to its predecessor, here is the full list of upgrades in UTWS3:
  • Now uses independent TPA6140A2 AMP
  • Power output increase from 5mW to 25mW at 32Ohms
  • Noise floor decrease from 25uV+ to <8uV
  • No need to charge each channel with a cable, both take charge from a cradle now and charge faster
  • 2nd microphone added for better noise cancelling ability
  • Added IPX4 environmental protection
  • Volume controls better now (26 levels, better physical buttons)
  • Power ON|OFF is now controlled with cradle top cover
  • Uses FiiO Control app for settings, upgrades and tuning EQ


Done with the history… Let’s get back to FiiO UTWS3. The specs are as following:
  • Chip: Qualcomm QCC3020, Bluetooth 5.0
    • TWS+ Low Latency (2 channels connected at once)
    • 2 independent amps
  • Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX
  • Output Power:
    • 38mW(16Ωload)
    • 25mW(32Ωload)
  • Noise: <8μV
  • Driving ability: 16~100Ω
  • THD+N: <0.06%
  • SNR: 100dB r”A“
  • Output Impedance: ~0.7Ω
  • Crosstalk: 94dB
  • Balance: ≤0.5dB
  • Working Time:
    • TWS+: 7hs of use/charge
    • TWS: 5.5hs of use/charge
    • Overall battery life 30h (800mAh) (4-5 recharges from the case)
  • Mics: 2 mics/channel with noise cancelling feature
  • Device control over: FiiO Control APP
  • Physical controls: multifunctional button (per each channel, on cradle)
  • Indicators: multicolor LED (each channel and cradle)
  • Wires: silver plated copper integrated wires
  • Environmental protection: IPX4
  • Connections: MMCX or 2-pin, 0.78mm
  • Dimension: 93.5×71.1×34.6
  • Weight: 125.5g


Packaging and design:

FiiO UTWS3 comes in relatively small and visually attractive box consisting of outer cover with product graphics and company information and the inner more sturdy black cardboard insert that holds the product itself. FiiO has added a special sticker on the back side of the outer cover as a solution to counterfeit item protection.



Inner box compartment has a special soft insert that holds UTWS3 cradle at place while the cable, user manual and warranty card are stored in the separate envelope underneath. Not much of the accessories, though. Only ear hooks with the cradle and charging USB type-C -> USB B cable. Wonder why FiiO has not included any carrying pouch for the sake of the product long-lasting protection.



Ear hooks are stored inside the cradle and have special stickers pre-applied to charging pins in order to avoid charging during the delivery. Good way to prevent early battery deterioration before it gets to the end user. Just don’t forget to peel it off before use. Cradle, itself, makes a good impression and feel – little bit rough surface, accurate and even strict design. Someone might say that it is boring due to lack of design elements but we’d rather call it – functional. Lightweight, though, We expected its weight to be much more than it really is. There are 3 LED indicators at the facing side of the cradle and USB type-C charging port at the back. Nothing more.



Top cradle cover opens with little effort, totally enough to keep it at place under any circumstances when the external force is not applied. Can’t tell for sure whether it is retained with a magnet but there should be some kind of element like this that enables power off|on logics for the ear hooks. Anyway, folding mechanism looks to be quite durable and feels natural.



The insides of the cradle look more appealing than the externals – neat ear hook profile cutouts at the top cover and base aided by the combination of grey (scratch protection soft material adhesives) and black colors, deep lodgments designed to store third-party IEMs or earphones of virtually any size and shape. Plus the additional button at the most convenient place that does some vital tricks. Don’t worry, it won’t be used too often, only for some initial procedures.



Apart of the cradle, FiiO UTWS3 ear hooks are much more sophisticated devices that contain all the magic. In terms of a design, they consist of the plastic base and flexible ear guides (perhaps, made of a silicone with inner channel for 20 strands of monocrystalline silver plated copper wire). Both channels have FiiO logos on the facing part along with large, easy to reach multifunctional button.



Furthermore, both channels feature 2 microphones protected by aluminum grills, white LED indicators (same opening with the backside mic), magnetic charging pins, aluminum rings acting as channel indicators (left – blue, right – red) and MMCX or 2-pin, 0.78mm connectors (both versions are available for a purchase). And the weight/channel is only 6.5g (without IEMs). Additionally, since UTWS3 features IPX4 protection, both units have special dust/moisture gaskets protecting button and mic openings.



In overall, the design of the whole set is varying from strict and functional (cradle) to clean and practical (ear hooks) with only few eye-catching elements. But what is unquestionable is the precise manufacturing, perfect alignment of all elements and decent build quality.



Fit:

The main point about the fit concerns the type of IEM connector selected during the purchase. MMCX type seems to be the most universal option since the connector allows IEMs to rotate over Y-axis. It gives certain freedom of adjusting the angle at which any MMCX IEMs would go into ear channel. With 2-pin option, it seems that some IEM shapes might struggle to fit into the ears correctly, especially if the output nozzles are given some irregular angle (that deviates much from 90-degrees). It is only our thought that might not be the truth. But we would really appreciate if FiiO would consider redesigning the connectors. The best option would be to have MMCX ear hooks only + the additional MMCX->2-pin, 0,78mm adapter in a bundle. Such approach would solve 2 issues: it would make UTWS3 even more universal out of the box (no need to choose and stick to connector type) and it would also allow 2-pin adapter to rotate on MMCX connection base.



As to our version – MMCX – we have tried it with different types of IEM shapes (custom, bullet, droplet, round) – all seem to fit nicely. The least comfortable for a long ride were bullet-like shaped IEMs since the physical pressure to ear channel increases when UTWS3 ear guides flex more. This happens when IEM body is quite long, which is kind of rare. Short bullet-like IEMs as HiBy Beans, for instance, do not produce any discomfort.

One more aspect to mention in this section is the type of end gear to use in overall. FiiO UTWS3 is designed to be used on a constant basis, for music or videos, during workouts or simply to talk over the phone. The possibility to use each channel independently also makes UTWS3 a great substitute for a handsfree device. In either scenario that involves long sessions (except music or videos), full immersion with total real world isolation is not necessary and even dangerous. Outer noises should be coming in to save yourself from a possible incident, especially outside. Ok, you can use only 1 channel… But in this case, when only 1 IEM is used – you are risking to get a headache, or worse. Therefore, the best option in such usage would be to use earbuds instead of IEMs. For example, such excellent options as Ourart ACG or Ti7.



Device in use:

Since FiiO UTWS3 is quite sophisticated device it requires some learning of control operations. Initially, you would have to charge the cradle and ear hooks (inside the cradle). It takes time, but all 3 devices take charge simultaneously which is a step up from a previous version where you would have to charge each channel separately. Just wait for all 3 LEDs on the cradle to go off – it means that charging is compete. As soon as the cradle top cover is opened – both ear hooks come into life with auto power on function (power goes off when top cover gets closed) and the initial pairing process starts (center cradle LED flashes white and red). Now you can proceed with Bluetooth device discovery on your source device.



You should be able to locate FiiO UTWS3 L (or FiiO UTWS3 R or FiiO UTWS3 L/R) at this stage and connect to it, responding with “allow” whenever requested. This would result in device pairing with both channels connected at the same time. Compatible sources should report aptX as Bluetooth audio codec currently in use. FiiO UTWS3 is ready from now on. We would also recommend to get FiiO Control app from Android/iOS store to gain full control over this device. This application would allow to:
  • check each channel battery state
  • check and upgrade FW version
  • change button functions
  • set idle state power off timeout
  • enable and tune EQ
  • tweak audio settings and change voice language
  • reset the device, clear pairing
  • read user guide


By the time of writing this review FiiO has already released the new FW: 0.2.46 which has bug fixes and new volume logics listed in the changelog. The process of upgrading requires that only one channel should be upgraded at at time – means, the second channel should be in OFF state. It takes about 2-3 minutes/channel to upgrade and can be performed with OTA or local FW *.bin file. Further pairing reset and reconnect is also mandatory. Done in the following steps:
  1. Place both channels in cradle
  2. Press and hold button on cradle for 12 seconds to reset and power off
  3. Ear hooks would get back to life automatically in couple of seconds and synchronize to each other
  4. Now it is possible to connect again


Other cradle button functions:
  • Long press for 3 seconds – enter pairing mode
  • Long press for 12 seconds – reset pairing
  • Short press – remaining battery in cradle
Indications:
  • R and L white LED pulses – ear hooks charging (for 15 seconds with no USB power supply, constantly – with USB power supply)
  • R and L white LED pulses go OFF – ear hooks charged
  • Central white LED ON for 5 sec after opening top cover of pressing button – cradle remaining battery >20%
  • Central red LED ON for 5 sec after opening top cover of pressing button – cradle remaining battery <20%
  • Central white LED pulses – cradle takes charge
  • Central white LED ON – cradle fully charged
  • Central LED pulses white and red – ear hooks pairing in process when in cradle


Left ear hook button:
  • Single click:
    • Resume playback
    • Decrease volume
    • Answer call
  • Double click:
    • Pause
  • Triple click:
    • Activate voice assistant
  • Long press:
    • Previous track
    • Hang up
    • Decline a call
Right ear hook button:
  • Single click:
    • Resume playback
    • Increase volume
    • Answer call
  • Double click:
    • Pause
  • Triple click:
    • Activate voice assistant
  • Long press:
    • Next track
    • Hang up
    • Decline a call
For both channels when not in cradle:
  • In OFF state – press for 1 second to power ON
  • In On state – press for 5 seconds to power OFF
Huh… Requires some time to memorize…



As stated in the description, full charge would allow to use each channel for ~5.5 – 7 hours (which is close to real world figures) and the cradle would also allow to fully charge both channels for 5 times.

No problems were met during pairing process, real world usage, charging or upgrading the firmware. FiiO UTWS3 declared functionality seems to be fully implemented and thoroughly polished. Phone calls don’t disappoint either, providing good voice quality and smplartphone-level noise cancelling performance. Buttons do the job as expected and defined above.



Sound quality:

Now, to the most interesting part. Our testing setup would be HiBy R5 Sabre DAP + FiiO UTWS3 + ArtMagic DH3 (15Ohms) IEMs and aptX codec. We would leave out examining sound with SBC or AAC as less capable codecs, not worth of attention if you have already spent more than $500 for the entire setup. Qualcomm QCC3020 chip over AptX, at least, gives you 16bit/48kHz at 384 kbit/s and frequency response 20Hz – 22.7kHz. More than CD quality but not HD yet.



DH3 are hybrid, easy to drive IEMs with only 15Ohms impedance and 105dB sensitivity. It results in ~55mW of power from UTWS3 which is more than enough to squeeze out the appropriate dynamics and volume level. Such IEMs would get very loud, almost unbearable. Anything sensitive up to 50Ohms should be driven adequately.



Since UTWS3 feels quite linear in tuning, there won’t be any accents on either range other than IEMs would produce on its own. In comparison to cable connection, a certain model of IEMs would sound quite similar, with slightly less clarity on treble, slight decrease in overall resolution and texturing. First addresses Bluetooth codec potential that usually strikes the highest octaves, while the resolution suffers from the limited potential of hardware processing packed to a single chip with significantly reduced element base. But this is only in comparison to HiRes DAP as a source. If to compare UTWS3 to a regular smartphone output sound – some of its aspects would even get improved. For example – midbass dynamics.



In overall, UTWS3 lows feel quite collected and contoured rather than deep or extended, midbass has appealing dynamics and power, mids are linear, with moderate resolution and good balance between male and female vocals, lower treble feels calm and delicate while the extension is slightly below the average. We wouldn’t insist that UTWS3 is capable to substitute wire for a quality-aware listener, neither we would say that UTWS3 cannot substitute wire when necessary for any audio fan. Since it doesn’t add any coloration to regular sound of your favorite IEMs or earbuds – it is a good option whenever wires limit your mobility.



Compared to Hidizs H2: completely different formfactor, still portable, much more capable in terms of Bluetooth codecs (aptX HD, LDAC, UAT) but at the same time – more limited in power output and more susceptible to audio lag. Yes, Hidizs H2 has its numerous strong points but FiiO UTWS3 are far better if the usage scenario is portable everyday use. Especially with a smartphone, when you want to answer calls. Sound-wise, both are neutral sources for IEMs and both behave quite similar. H2, of course, has more potential due to HD codecs but cannot drive similar loads as FiiO UTWS3 do.



Compared to ColorFly BT-C1: almost similar to Hidizs H2, ColorFly represents a standalone product with less portability in mind. It is a closer match to UTWS3 due to only aptX codec support and same power output level. It is very neutral, if not to say boring. Mostly designed to be used as a shelf receiver for active speakers. Not a contender for its planned way if use and less appealing tuning.



Compared to TFZ X1: perhaps the closest match of those, but in a formfactor of IEMs with inbuilt Bluetooth receiver. Less universal, limited to only 1 sound character, less sophisticated in terms of functions and much worse during the phone calls. Overall user experience of TFZ X1 is far from ideal – buttons are too small, LEDs are almost invisible, noise cancelling not good. But the build quality is decent, aptX is supported and sound is quite impressive. FiiO UTWS3 definitely wins, thanks to the possibility of connecting different IEMs.



Conclusion:

Perhaps, FiiO UTWS3 is currently the best representative of what Bluetooth TWS product should be like. Polished in a second iteration, free of bugs or limitations, with adequate revised logics – this product provides strong user experience and stellar performance in the most universal formfactor. Neckbands, TWS IEMs, standalone receivers – all would be less capable or portable in everyday use, either not allowing to switch end gear or to perform routine activities in the most convenient way. FiiO UTWS3, with the idea of universal wireless receiver for any IEMs or earbuds, does the trick in a best possible way, providing audio fans with enough quality and regular user with the appropriate level of comfort and functionality. Or the mixture of those, as the most valuable result. We would definitely stick to this product for a long period as the most universal option currently available on the market…

FiiO UTWS3 official page: LINK

FiiO UTWS3 purchase link on Amazon: LINK

FiiO UTWS3 purchase link on AliExpress: LINK
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Best So Far
Pros: Great Build Quality. Mostly Retain Original Sound. Underrated Tiny Details. Long Battery. Best Control Button. App Support. Wireless Update (Android). Great Price. Make My SO Annoyed (I Use It Everywhere).
Cons: Big Case. Slight Sound Change. Make The Joy of Using Wired Go Away. Make My SO Annoyed (I Use It Everywhere).
Disclaimers
  1. I bought these with my own money. No coupons, no referrals.
  2. I ordered it on the 1st day it came out on HiFiGo. No affiliation. It is probably the 1st patch.
Things to Keep in Mind While Reading
  1. I focus mostly on the user experience overall as I am quite picky about that. The other reviews already covered the technical aspects.
  2. My sound description will be limited as I only notice some small change that worth mention [see below].
  3. I am not an essay-writing kind so the review will be done in mostly bullet-point format.
  4. Wireless still will not win over wired so there will be compromises here and there. It depends solely on you to decide if that is worth it. It is to me.
  5. This is my 1st review. I welcome criticism.
  6. Test was done from the initial firmware v0.2.45 to v0.2.46 (around 2-3 weeks) on Sony IER-Z1R. Source = Samsung Note 9. Connection = AptX.
First Impression
  • For future owners, make sure to remove the plastic that cover the charging contact points on the unit.
    20201228_121347.jpg
  • The Build
    • Excellent build quality overall with a soft matt touch feeling. For the price, it is very high quality compare to other implementation (looking at you TRN). I would say the build is comparable to iBasso CF01.
      20210115_095138.jpg
      20210115_094709.jpg

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  • The Size
    • The size of the charging case is quite bigger than other true wireless like Samsung Buds or Airpods. You should be aware already that there will be sacrifice to convert our vastly superior IEM into wireless. I also post some pictures here for you to approximate the size (compare to Fiio BTR3, Logitech MX3 Master mouse, and Sony IER-Z1R stock case).
      20201228_120815.jpg
      20201228_120824.jpg
      20201228_120839.jpg
  • The Fit
    • Thanks to the flexible connectors, you can practically change the angle to accommodate the usual horizontal (Moondrop, Fiio) as well as the vertical connection (Blon, Sony IER-Z1R, M9, M7).
      20201228_120855.jpg
    • Fellow Sony IER-Z1R owners will be happy to know that the connectors are thinner than the stock cable so if you had problem with that, this should help. If the pointy end of the Z1R is hurting you, this will also allow you to fit/rotate it deeper since the connector are not excessively blocking it from being inserted deeper.
      20210115_095019.jpg
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  • App and Connection
    • The connection is fast.
    • The app is simple with extensive explanation. Although there is some aspects that need to be improved (custom EQ, Button Functions, etc.).
Usage Experience (2-3 Weeks)
  • The Sound
    20210115_094725.jpg
    • Everything sounds correct. I am also happy to confirm that the output impedance is low enough to not badly affect the sound. This was an issue with some other similar models.
    • The most obvious change I noticed is the sound being pushed forward and soundstage appearing a tad smaller with lesser width than depth.
    • Also, there is a little warmth added. Not that I mind.
    • Everything else regarding the sound seems to stay the same. This is to my ears only.
  • The User Experience
    20210115_094804.jpg
    • I like the deep pockets that store the IEM. They are big enough to accommodate most IEM as Sony IER-Z1R is by no means small. You can also rotate it sideway if the nozzles are too long that pushed the cover upward.
    • The magnetic is strong and you can feel it when you put the modules close to the contact points. This is underrated.
    • The lighting on the case are very smooth and elegant. Not like those lights on cheap stuffs that blast your eyes into oblivion. Same for the lighting on the modules, they are hidden behind the top microphones. WHY NO ONE THOUGHT OF THIS??? Essentially, there is no lighting visible during normal usage so if you had problem with TRN's modules, this is the fix.
      20210115_094531.jpg
    • It is stable enough for exercise. Yes, I did that with my Sony IER-Z1R. Please Don't Kill Me.
    • The MMCX connectors are strong. Very Strong. Love it. The usual Fiio MMCX build.
    • Battery seems to last around 5hr on each charge for me (total 4-5 charge). Keep in mind this is in TWS mode. Users with phones that have Qualcomm's TWS+ enabled by the manufacturer should be able to enjoy a better battery runtime.
    • It is powerful enough to drive the Sony IER-Z1R, which is not easy. Maximize volume on both the source and the modules will absolutely blow out your eardrums.
    • The buttons have a light tactile click to it. Very responsive and have a good surface area. I have not had any problem registering the clicks, not even once.
    • I recommend using Button Function 1 or 2. However, at the time of this review (firmware v2.0.45 to v2.0.46), the Prev Long Press on Button Function 2 seems to be not working properly - it only restarts the song. This will not be a problem if you use Button Function 1 as it might makes more sense. Either one is good overall as I do not normally use Prev function.
    • I am using it at least 4 hours per day. Normally I would use it more than that if I go to work/school. So far, the comfort is not an issue. I dare to say it is even more comfortable than using stock IER-Z1R cable. This varies of course.
    • Voice call quality is fine. Better than most but not by much.
    • There are no multi-device connection. Hopefully next revision.
  • Misc.
    • Fiio was quick to push out the 1st firmware update (it was 2-3 weeks after the release). They mostly have a good track record so I expect these modules to be updated continuously.
    • The online firmware update on Android was very easy. Although you have to do it twice for each unit.
    • The connection is strong over two concrete wall.
Conclusion
  • If it is not obvious, Fiio UTWS3 is the best implementation by far. There are some parts (software mostly) that need to be fixed but I expect Fiio to push out future firmware to perfect these in the near future.
  • Some users reported volume issue (I do not have it) and Fiio said to be aware of this and is in the process of reevaluating the next update. You can follow these updates from the thread.
  • I am not sure the sound change was just the limit of wireless or something else. Either way, it is not a big compromise. I approximate the change in quality around 85% - 95% of the original.
  • Like I said before, going wireless will cost you in some aspects. It is up to you to decide if the lower sound quality or the aesthetic is worth it.
  • To me, these are worth every penny and every second. I look forward to Fiio next upgrade since it seems like Fiio is one of the few that actually trying to push the boundaries while keeping the cost down. Bravo!
Last edited:
Ditch the cables and transform your earphones to TWS
Pros: - Good sound quality
- Powerful
- TWS +
- aptX
- Charging case
- Good battery life
- Great fit
- Snug connectors
- IPX4 rating
- Independent volume control
Cons: - Bulky charging case
- No aptX HD or LDAC
The UTWS3 sample was kindly provided by FiiO and is still under their ownership
The review reflects my own personal , honest and subjective opinion.

Introduction.

The FiiO UTWS3 is a True Wireless plus (TWS+) bluetooth adapter with a built in amplifier that can be connected to most earphones that come with a detachable cable system.
It is offered in two variants with MMCX or 2 pin (0.78mm) connectors. The earphone we would like to use should be compatible with the "cable around the ear" wearing style.
The only thing we have to do is to plug that earphone into the UTWS3 and we have at our hands the wireless version of it.
The UTWS3 is a great idea because instead of buying a new pair of wireless earphones we can just use our beloved ones or a second forgotten pair that doesn't get much daily use and can act as a second wireless pair.

IMG_20210111_212031.jpg


The UTWS3 isn't exactly a new product but it is a heavily upgraded version of a previous model named UTWS1.
You can find very interesting information about the birth of the UTWS1 project here
https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the-story-of-fiio-utws3-from-james.951675/

We have to point here that FiiO listened carefully to customer feedback and successfully addressed all the drawbacks of the previous model.

Technical and physical parameters.

The UTWS3 features the TWS+ dual transmission technology so there is no primary and secondary ear unit.
Both units are primary with an independent circuit inside and directly connected to the bluetooth device.
This means that each unit can be used to answer calls with an upgraded performance with lower latency and more stable operation.

The Qualcomm bluetooth 5.0 QCC3020 chipset is used to carry wireless transmission and digital conversion duties with aptX support.
The most important feature of the UTWS3 is the use of an independent headphone amplifier namely the TPA6140A2 rather than relying on the embedded amplifier of the QCC3020.
As such we get reduced distortion and greatly increased output power in order to drive more difficult loads.
It also has an analog volume adjustment system of 26 levels that is completely separated from that of the bluetooth device.
The UTWS3 can provide 38mW into 16Ω loads and 25mW into 32Ω with a noise floor less than 8uV.

IMG_20210111_212216.jpg


Another much welcomed feature is the use of a charging case.
Now both ear pieces together with the attached earphones are stored and charged inside the carrying case.
With an 800mAh battery the case can provide up to 30 hours of extra use.
Each ear piece has a battery life of about 6-7 hours in TWS+ mode or 4-5 hours in single mode and can be charged about 4-5 extra times inside the case.

The shape of the ear piece is also improved with a more anatomical and comfortable design.
Better quality plastic is used and build quality is very good with a luxurious touch to it.
The ear hooks are metal memory type and can be adjusted to stay secure.
Even the internal wiring is upgraded with high purity monocrystalline silver plated copper.
The new UTWS3 is water resistant with IPX4 rating and the weight is 6.5g per each ear unit without the earphones.

Fit and use.

The UTWS3 is like a hearing aid device and it is fitted accordingly.
The body itself is very slim and slick and it wraps around the ear aided by the memory ear hooks.
The ear hooks do not interfere with the outer ear so we managed to get deep insertion with all the earphones we used.
It is very comfortable without causing any distress even after prolonged use and the actual fit depends on the earphones used.

IMG_20210111_212320.jpg


The charging case layout is pretty simple with three small LEDs at the front and the micro USB port at the back.
The left and right LEDs indicate whether the two earpieces are charging and the central one is reserved for the case battery status.
Inside the box under the lid is a small multifunction button.
When we open the case both earpieces will automatically enter pairing status.
Once we get the earpieces out of the case the pairing with the last device is done instantly.
We can use one earpiece for call duties or both to listen to music.

Each ear piece has one small round control button.
Thankfully it is a press and click system with cleverly designed and tactile feedback.
We are great fans of such control systems because with the touch ones we always get unnecessarily and accidental clicks.
The control system is easy and plain with a small learning curve.
We cannot assign our own custom actions but instead we have to rely on the three different predefined layouts that are available through the FiiO Control app.

IMG_20210111_212340.jpg


During our listening tests we never experienced any drop outs or disconnections.
We haven't tested maximum distance but inside the office we didn't encounter any problems.
Call quality is excellent both for us and the caller thanks to the dual microphones.
Call , ring and music volumes can be independently adjusted from the FiiO Control app.

Screenshot_2021-01-13-10-36-13-383_com.fiio.control.jpg


The FiiO Control app can display battery status and offer further customization and adjustments.
There is a custom equalizer available and a full manual but the best part is that we can wirelessly upgrade the firmware.
The procedure is available to Android users only and it is a fairly simple one.
We have to manually check if there is a new firmware available and then we can apply it over the air.
The procedure must be performed two times because each earpiece is an independent device.
We have successfully updated to version 0.2.46.

Screenshot_2021-01-13-10-39-13-174_com.fiio.control.jpg


Sound impressions.

We have tested the UTWS3 with FiiO FH3 and FA9 and Final Audio B3.
The MMCX plugs fit snug and stay secure.
With the above mentioned earphones noise floor was very low and couldn't be heard.

IMG_20210111_212512.jpg


The sound quality is surprisingly good and the overall performance is held back only by the lack of aptX HD and LDAC support.
Let's start with the power output which is more than enough to drive all the usual earphones to very loud levels without a hint of distortion.

The overall sound signature is quite neutral with good extension to both ends.
Bass is full sounding with great dynamics reaching low enough with good control and layering.
It can handle complex passages with drive and pace and never sounded one note.
Mids are balanced and clear with a rounded tone to them and a natural overall timbre.
It is at the higher registers where the limitations of the aptX become apparent holding the performance back.
There is a certain lack of fidelity that translates into a slightly harsh and bright treble.
Tonality is still good but there is a loss of body and notes become lean and edged.

IMG_20210113_200842.jpg


But this is an issue not specific to the UTWS3 itself but rather a limitation of the bluetooth technology.
AptX HD and LDAC codecs help to mitigate the issue a little but still there is a certain lack of fidelity.
Cable is always better but we are willing to sacrifice a piece of sound quality for the ease of use.
Anyway we are nitpicking here because the UTWS3 isn't designed to be a critical listening machine but rather a every day listening companion on the go and as that it sounds excellent.

IMG_20210113_200805.jpg


Detail retrieval and overall clarity are very satisfying as is the stage which is horizontally layered but with good clues of instrumental positioning.
We have tested with large scale symphonic works and the outcome was beyond expectations.

At the end.

If you want to convert your detachable earphones to True Wireless the FiiO UTWS3 is the obvious choice.
It offers great sound quality with hassle free and easy operation plus an extended battery life thanks for the new charging case.
For just $79.99 it is a no brainer and very highly recommended.

Copyright - Laskis Petros 2021.
Last edited:
Ichos
Ichos
This a question that must be addressed to the software developer at FiiO support.
Some kind of incompatible software.
M
MargusL
Finally got it - phones GPS has to be turned on.
Ichos
Ichos
Oh , very weird software conflict!

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