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LEAR BTC-01

Rating:
3.875/5,
Tags:
  • Lear BTC-01 bluetooth cable for IEMs with many different connectors to choose from.

Recent Reviews

  1. Nec3
    Where's the BTC-02?
    Written by Nec3
    Published Dec 21, 2017
    3.0/5,
    Pros - Natural sound, decent soundstage, good construction.
    Cons - 3 hour listening time, prefers a strong bluetooth connection, noise floor, stiff connector, stiff cable that takes a while to soften.
    The Lear BTC-01 is better than the FiiO X5 Classic in regards to sound. If sound is all you care about then stop there and buy one already.

    However I rated the BTC-01 three and a half stars and you should continue reading on why.

    Like all products, they come with flaws and the BTC-01 is no exception to that. The bluetooth adapter in my opinion requires at least Bluetooth 5.0, as 4.2 is too weak to keep a clean connection to pass through a winter parka, a hand over a phone antenna and disturbing radio frequencies between the device and the BTC-01.

    The noise floor is also relatively high to be used in quiet listening environments, it's very audible especially with music that has quiet moments. This noise floor can be easily ignored in public transportation or on-the-go.

    3 hours is also not a long listening session, it's the equivalent of commuting to the workplace and back. Good luck if you forget to turn off the bluetooth adapter as you will probably not have enough power to listen to music on the way home.

    I also have a 10000mah portable battery that turns off as a safety feature, and I assume the BTC-01 doesn't accept enough amperage because the battery pack refuses to stay on to charge my bluetooth adapter. Leaving me with the limited option of charging my device at home or through a computer.

    Keeping the stock cable is also not a very good solution to the short battery life, as the connection is really stiff on initial insertion for the BTC-01, and after about fifty or more reinsertions; I've noticed a drastic reduction in the stock cable maintaining a decent grip on the IEM.

    The cable itself is relatively stiff for the first two weeks, and it's hard to maintain wearing it over-ear so I used the over-ear hook from the IE80's stock cable. The cable softened over time but I found myself twisting the cable inward so the cable would hug my chin; ensuring the cable doesn't fly over my ear.

    Fortunately the BTC-01 has very good redeeming features. First off is the sound. Soundstage is slightly more layered than the FiiO X5, and less claustrophobic at that. Second, mids are smooth and vocals are a lot less shouty than the FiiO X5. Treble leaves a lot to be desired, though grainy, it rolls off to prevent any harshness.

    Connecting my phone to the BTC-01 is also very easy, and I've had little issues in regards to creating new connections on other devices.

    The buttons are solid, and the housing has a very odd but strange rubber coating that's addicting to rub.

    Regardless, I hope Lear makes a BTC-02 that addresses the issues of the BTC-01. Now would be a great time to release a new one considering the bluetooth earphones being released for phones with no 3.5mm stereo inputs.
  2. glassmonkey
    Lear BTC-01: a sound surprise in wireless
    Written by glassmonkey
    Published Apr 22, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Good sound, clean amplification, good driving power, lightweight and comfortable, price, many pin outs (including rare ones)
    Cons - Pin fit (standard 2-pin CIEM), Bluetooth noise floor and EMI (Bluetooth general flaw), no aptX, not sweatproof, limited battery life
    33691125500_83cc4b12f7_b.jpg

     
    Acknowledgment  

    Thank you Lear for providing this review sample in exchange for my honest opinion.

    This review may also be viewed on my blog, here.

    List Price: $65 at time of review plus shipping

    Introduction

    I took an interest in the BTC-01 as soon as Lear announced it on HeadFi. In the last year and a bit I’ve reviewed more Bluetooth headphones than I ever thought I’d even listen to. After all, Bluetooth sound quality is definitely exceeded by wired sound quality. When I enquired about reviewing the BTC-01, Apple hadn’t yet put out their 3.5mm jackless iPhone 7. I hadn’t yet panned them for ignoring all us audiophiles.

    What I later realised was that Apple nailed their consumer use-case. They were way ahead of the game when it came to what their consumers wanted and how their consumers were using Apple devices with headphones. Most folks using their phone as a source (which is 95% of people) are using their headphones on the go or in the gym. These are not critical listening settings. Even if you have a highly resolving headphone or two, and I certainly do, when you are on a bus or train, or running on a treadmill, that resolution advantage doesn’t come into play as much. Bluetooth sounds good enough for most times for most people. I now find myself applauding Apple for their move on sheer business acumen.

    If you walk down the street, you’ll see a crap-ton of people wearing Frankenstein’s monster costumes—big-ass Bluetooth IEMs sticking out of their ears of probably questionable quality. Headphones that may be from Beats, or may be random pieces of kit from a grocery store or high street shop that is genuinely clueless when it comes to sound quality. It is really hard to find Bluetooth in-ears that don’t look stupid, especially from Apple (Apple owns Beats).

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    While making these observations, I’ve also observed that the average consumer does know a really good headphone when they hear them. They just haven’t heard them. I love to share this hobby with strangers and friends, but most of them will still be listening to crappy Bluetooth headphones because wires suck for use on the move. The Lear BTC-01 gives people the option to listen to good headphones with a lightweight detachable cable with built in balanced amplification. With the BTC-01 the need for bulky Frankenstein Bluetooth in-ears disappears. This is why I was so interested in it and products like it (there are a few now).

    Useability: Form & Function

    The BTC-01 is lightweight, flexible and comes in almost as many connector varieties as you could possibly have. They even do connectors for rarities like FitEar. Nice. That said, I had problems with my particular connector choice, 2-pin standard CIEM (2-Pin CM in Lear ordering parlance). The pins are on the large side and will loosen any standard 2-pin jack you put them in. I tried with three top-tier brands: Noble, Empire Ears, and Vibro Labs. I was able to get the pins to go in all the way on the Vibro Labs Maya, but I felt uncomfortable the whole time. It was not possible to get the pins all the way into the Noble Kaiser Encore. I gave up in fear. I was able to get sound out, and it sounded truly excellent, but I wasn’t about to risk more than ¼ insertion. As soon as I put the pins at the entry on an Empire Ears IEM, I knew that the pins weren’t going in and stopped. These problems with pin fit were why this review has been delayed so long.

    On principle, a cable review is a relatively simple thing: how does it feel, how does it sound. That’s it. This review has dealt with some roadblocks, and that is why I’ve bitten the bullet and bought the least expensive most-reputable 2-pin IEM I could find: the KZ ED12. I got it off of Amazon.co.uk for £12.78 with Prime shipping. The KZ ED12 is a steal—a mind-blowing steal. It’s an excellent panacea for people who don’t know they are suffering from good audio withdrawal. The KZ also had fit problems with the pins—but the information on pin size for the KZ headphones isn’t there. They might have smaller Ultimate Ears sized pins with a Unique Melody polarity. I had to use all my might to fully insert the pins—I wasn’t worried about killing a 12 quid IEM, there was still a little bit of room at the end. After trying 4 brands of IEM manufacturer and having pin fit issues with all of them, I'm inclined to conclude that the Lear 2-pin has too much girth. My recommendation would be for Lear to buy a pair of Eidolic 2-pin connectors, measure those, and then make all their 2-pins that size. I’ve found Eidolic 2-pins to fit all the ‘CIEM’ type headphones. Barring that, it may be advisable to get some weight-watchers and lay off the KFC. Maybe some Sweatin’ to the Oldies might be in order. It appears that all the jacks by major manufacturers have already made the trip to Slimming World.

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    Pairing

    I had no problems pairing the BTC-01 with most sources. I paired it with my ancient phone, my new phone (after old phone bricked), with several 3.5mm to Bluetooth dongles (Avantree Priva II is the best), my laptop, and the Echobox Explorer. Only the Echobox Explorer had problems. I’m inclined to think the source is the problem on this one, not the cable. The cable was also tested with an iPhone 7 when I let a friend use it with the KZ ED12.

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    Range

    Something I have noted is that the range of a Bluetooth device is as dependent on the transmitter as the receiver. I think folks who make judgements against a Bluetooth headphone's range should always make sure their source has adequate range characteristics before blaming the headphone. Almost all my Bluetooth sources have about a 8-10m unobstructed range. That is about the range that I got with the BTC-01. No problems with max range here.

    Audio quality

    I’m going to start by saying something about bitrates. There is basically no audible difference between standard aptX and well implemented SBC. I’ve tested this on multiple headphones with multiple transmitters. The major sound differences in Bluetooth are due to the DACs inbuilt on the chips and the amplification associated at the headphone end. I’ve never seen any manufacturer disclose what they use for amplification. Lear uses an SBC capable chip, but you can’t hear the difference between approximately 320mbps and 348mbps, I can almost guarantee that. It is a myth that aptX is CD-quality. There is a reason that advertisements for aptX only say CD-like quality.

    So some things to note: I’ve not encountered perfectly silent background Bluetooth, Bluetooth is not as good as wired, and in the typical Bluetooth usage situation, neither of these matter. You can generally hear the noise floor during critical listening with any Bluetooth IEM. The BTC-01 also exhibits a noise floor, but it is softer than other IEMs. The amplification is cleaner, with no distortion at any volume. High quality Bluetooth headphones from 1MORE that I have reviewed do not have clean amplification up to higher volumes, the same has been true of other Bluetooth headphones I’ve reviewed. Distortion sets in fiercely at moderately high volumes on other Bluetooth headphones. When using the BTC-01, I didn’t experience this.

    The BTC-01 provides the clearest Bluetooth experience I’ve yet had, and the fact that you can use the cable with high end headphones means that these will scale. I had brief listens with the Maya and the sound of the Maya was nicely preserved. I observed similar quality preservation with the Noble Kaiser Encore, but I couldn’t fully insert the pins, I gave up at ¼ in. It was not a good enough insertion to even photograph. The KZ ED12 sounded excellent with the BTC-01.

    Specifications

    Specifications 
    Price$65 plus shipping
    Bluetooth version4.0
    Output power30mW into 15Ω with balanced class AB amplification
    Output impedance≤ 0.9 mOhm
    Battery Life3-4 hours
    Charging Time30-50 minutes (can be used while charging)
    MaterialsOFC cable, Murata capacitors
    MicrophoneBuilt into the cable
    Weight~8g
    CompatibilityWindows/Mac/iOS/Android (tested with all but Mac)

    Some graphs from Lear:

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    As can be seen from the graphs, the output impedance is always under 1ohm, with lower impedances at lower frequencies but very linear output impedance for the most part. This should work well for almost all headphones as if we follow the rule of 8, headphones with an impedance of 7Ω or more should be compatible with no effect on the sound signature. Also in the graphs, we can see that the BTC-01 is tuned with a bit of a boosted high treble, this is likely responsible for the maintenance of an airy character in the sound. We can also see that the output power is higher than the referenced smart phone (unfortunately anonymous referenced smartphone). I would have like to know what the smartphone was, or to have a pool of averaged smartphone headphone outputs recorded with the models disclosed but only the average of all models shown—in this way there can be no perceived attack on any manufacturer’s headphone output.

    Total harmonic distortion plus noise characteristics of the cable are good and fairly linear even under a heavy load. It is readily apparent that the BTC-01 handles load exceptionally well. What hasn’t been shown in the THD +N graph is what a typical Bluetooth headphone does when the volume is jacked up. From my experience, I would expect the distortion to be jacked up much higher, as it has been very audible and unpleasant on almost all Bluetooth headphones I’ve listened to. Given that people often will play their Bluetooth headphones loud, due to the listening environment that Bluetooth is used in, the stable amplification performance of the BTC-01 is very reassuring.

    Conclusions

    The BTC-01 is a very nice Bluetooth cable with clear sound and amplification that performs well under standard IEM loads. I had some significant problems with the pin size on the BTC-01 2-pin CM model, but I believe that this will be isolated to this size, is not all on Lear due to variance in the industry, and is easily remediable. For $65 plus shipping, I can certainly recommend it.
     
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      JNOISE JA likes this.
  3. yacobx
    Making a case for the LEAR BTC 01
    Written by yacobx
    Published Mar 18, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - convenience, separation, clarity
    Cons - wireless background noise and bass roll off
    btc.jpg
     
     
     
    I want this review to be short and simple. The LEAR BTC 01 is an excellent device in this day and age where cellphones are starting to get rid of headphone jacks. I mean, the headphone jacks on cellphones aren’t that great to begin with so I’m not to mad about it. Anyways, you are probably reading this review to see if you should buy it. I believe it’s worth the money. It has big pros and big cons. The things I really liked about the device was the sound quality that I got from it. I really felt that my IEM’s benefited from the balanced output. It also has a good wireless range. On the other hand, the wireless background noise on is annoying on sensitive IEM’s. The bass roll off was not that noticeable but it’s there for sure, really depends on the music you listen to. Battery life is short but I mostly use it when I am commuting so it’s easy to plug it in and charge while driving. The microphone was really good quality and I greatly appreciated being able to transition from music to phone calls with ease. If you look at my picture you’ll notice that I have a shirt clip on the cable… well that’s to balance the weight of the unit so my ears don’t feel weird. After all that duality of my thoughts, I still really really liked the audio quality of the unit and still would suggest it to someone that was ultimately looking for connivance for commuting.  
  4. ExpatinJapan
    The LEAR BTC-01 is an excellent choice for anyone looking to make their precious high end IEMs wireless
    Written by ExpatinJapan
    Published Oct 4, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Light, easy to use, smooth and detailed sound, good soundstage
    Cons - Some rock sounded too rocky

    LEAR BTC-01 Bluetooth Cable For IEMs Review - Expatinjapan

     Head Pie  
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    LEAR BTC-01 review​
    -expatinjapan​
     
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    I am not experienced with bluetooth gear and am a reputed luddite with wooden ears who both embraces and shuns new technology indiscriminately.
    Color me surprised when I quite enjoyed and found the LEAR bluetooth BTC-01 quite a solution to a problem I did not know I had.
    Of course this would mean not displaying my finely braided cables to all in sundry on my daily commute, but I can say the sound quality is very good, even great, perhaps excellent even.
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    Whats in the box?
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    Simply but efficiently packed. The LEAR BTC-01 comes in a small box.​
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    The back of the box shows all the possible connections variations one can purchase, ​
    This being the two pin version.​
     
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    Charger cable, and some over the ear cable supporters to help hold the BTC-01 in place, If needed.​
     
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    Fit and build
     
    Well this is an easy question. It is light an unobtrusive, fit depends more on your IEMs rather than this device. Needless to say I found it comfortable and didn`t really notice it at the back of my neck.
     
    Build is good. A well made device with rubber support where the cable exits the control panel.
     
    L and R are clearly marked by the connectors.
     
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    Value
     
    At HK$499 or US$65 it is an inexpensive solution to many situations, whether you want a more hands free experience, a wireless or have to resolve an issue where your device has no headphone jack the LEAR BTC-01 ticks all those boxes.
     
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    Specs
     From their website, see the link at the top of the review.
    Some Frequency tables/graphs etc available on their website.
     
    *Specification:
     
    BT Version: BT4.0
    Frequency Response:20Hz~20kHz
    Output:760 mVRMS  MAX (35mW @15ohm)
    Output Impedance:≤ 0.9 mOhm
    Operation time:About 3 Hours playback ,≥72 Hours standby time.
    Charging time:<50 Mins (DC5V 1A)
    Length:Total about 80CM ,Short wire(Left)about 24CM,Long wire(Right)about 51CM
    Weight:about 7~8g(Net body & wire, depends on different connectors)
    System:Windows/Mac/iOS/Android
     
    *Key features of the BTC-01:
     
     
    1)Balanced output,usually seen on high grade players such as AK, Onkyo , Cowon etc.
    The design of balanced output can help to reduce the crosstalk and improve the clarity of the sound.
     
    2)Internal Class AB balanced amplifier stage, the output is over 30mW@15ohm, even better than a lot of smartphones phone out in the market.
    When comparing to some of the similar products, the output is at least one time stronger!
     
    3)Built in Lithium polymer rechargeable batteries, when charged around 50mins, can have over 3 hours of play time. And it also supports playing music and charging at the same time, when you have portable charger with you, you can extend the using time.
     
    4)The use of high quality OFC pure copper cable can improve the transmission efficiency and durability. Comparing to similar products, the number of wires is at least one times more.
     
    5)We've chosen high quality capacitors from Murata Japan, making sure the quality is on point and stable.
     
    6)We have different kind of version in order to fit with all different kinds of plugs!
     
    7)Built in high sensitivity microphone to make sure your calls are loud and clear.
     
    8) Bluetooth 4.0 standard
     
    9)Connects two device at the same time
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    Detailed picture shows the different connectors available for purchase.​
    NOTE: It does int come with an array of connectors, each unit comes with one, you select one connector.​
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    *In other news we need an industry standard connector :wink:
     
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    Some of the possible connectors you can choose.​
     
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    Volume buttons (double as skipping track), connect, talk, etc.​

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    This unit being the two pin version.​
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    Sound

    Using an ipod touch 6G, 128GB with Flacplayer app by Dan Leehr.
    JOMO 6R earphones.
     
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    Volume is more than adequate at half way/ 50%.

    Listening to Massive Attack the sound is quite full, clear and detailed.
    The sound stage is quite wide. 
    Theres a bit of pops and static, like it has possibly been recorded off vinyl. 
    Further tests will establish  a medium.

    Next listening to an unnamed 1980s track from a best of album, the clicks and pops are absent. The sound is clear and fluid.

    The Jesus and Marychain are next, detailed, nice clarity, perhaps lacking some of the low end it needs. Could be the signature of the JOMO 6R.

    Massive Attack again, from Heglioland album. Smooth, spacious, great height and width.

    Dance music is deep and bassy - Lana Del Rey - Ride (Special request remix).

    Coldplay - Us against the world - general Coldplay sibilance check.
    Smooth and even.

    The Wind and The Wave - Chandelier sounds exactly as I would expect.

    I continued on my shuffling through various tracks and the results remained the same.

    Clear, detailed, good sound stage, decent height and width.
    It is a generally smooth performance overall, with rock at times...well being rock and roll can get a bit rough - but this is more the recordings than the unit.  

    With the Advanced AcousticWerkes W300U earphones the results were relatively the same, a little more low end was present and less airy than the JOMO 6R.
    The clarity, detail and smoothness were still present.


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    The LEAR BTC-01 connects easily to my ipod touch 6G.

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    Bit rates etc​
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    As you can see from the Flacplayer app info screenshots the BTC-01 plays back at 16/44100Hz.​
    More than enough for on the go.​
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    Overall
     
    The LEAR BTC-01 bluetooth dongle for IEMs is a great idea, one that other companies are also doing. Choose your flavor.
     
    Whilst I am a cable and straight to wired man, I do enjoy this concept and expect it will be adopted by many who buy the iphone 7 and other jack less devices to pair their well priced IEMs with.
     
    Is a wired connection better than a bluetooth one? I don`t know.
     
    I do know the LEAR BTC-01 sounds great. It turned me from an inexperienced doubter to one of the faithful. Will I be swapping sides, probably not. I love my cables, but then again I did swear by my stacked rigs and now prefer a single Dap or two in one such as CEntrance Hifi-Skyn.
     
    Also LEARs array of choices for your preferred earphone connector is a plus.
     
    Also when you turn on and off a recorded voice message on the BTC-01 tells you whether is switching on or off. a nice touch.
     
    Light, well made and easy to pair up with my idevice.
     
    Smooth, clear, detailed with a decent sound stage and fast response.
     
    All in all the LEAR BTC-01 gets two pies up from this reviewer. Great job.
     
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    Thank you to LEAR for the discount on the BTC-01 cable for review​
    -expatinjapan​

      JNOISE JA, twister6 and eldss like this.
    1. thatonenoob
      So which codecs are supported? Sorry if I missed it but i should find this quite important. Aptx, etc.
      thatonenoob, Oct 5, 2016
    2. Fiberoptix
      Unfortunately it does not support APTX. 
      Fiberoptix, Oct 5, 2016
    3. agrosash
      Seriously wondering about how these compare to the Audio Technica AT-PHA50BT which I currently use (and really like)
      agrosash, Jan 13, 2017

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