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Fiio BTR3 Review (Portable DAC & Bluetooth Receiver)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Fiio BTR3 portable USB-C Dac and bluetooth wireless receiver. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $60 from Amazon including Prime shipping.

The form factor is the typical "belt clip" style:

Fiio BTR3 Review Bluetooth DAC Headphone Amplifier.jpg


Note that unlike DAC dongles, the BTR3 has an internal battery so can run without a wire using Bluetooth streaming.

Standard 3.5mm headphone jack and USB-C is provided:
Fiio BTR3 Review Bluetooth USB-C LDAC DAC Headphone Amplifier.jpg


There are switches on one side which requires reference to manual to decode. There is a very nice LED that is color coded to indicate Bluetooth codec chosen. Love this!

Fiio BTR3 Measurements
I connected the BTR3 using a USB cable and made my usual measurement:
Fiio BTR3 Measurements Bluetooth DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


This is disappointing on multiple fronts. The biggest issue is the output voltage of just 0.9 volt. I thought this was a mistake and looked up the specs and indeed, this is the maximum output available. This will significantly hurt the power availability for high impedance headphones. Many phones and dongles produce 1 volt by themselves which means using BTR3 would be a step backward!

SINAD is dominated by distortion and a couple of strange spikes up high. This was only there when I streamed using my Roon player and exclusive mode WASAPI. When use AP analyzer as a source, it truncates the bits to 16 which creates a different (instrumentation) problem. But oddly, those spikes disappear. Can't figure out what is going on there. Anyway, using AP SINAD rose to low 90s (not shown). Anyway, ranking is poor relative to other portable dongles and adapters:

Best portable bluetooth player reviewed.png


Dynamic range is poor both at full and 50 mv levels:
Fiio BTR3 SNR Measurements Bluetooth DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


50 mv noise level is quite high relative to other products tested (101 to date!):
best bluetooth receiver tested.png


This means if you use sensitive IEMs, you may hear background noise.

Jitter test made no sense whatsoever:
Fiio BTR3 Jitter Measurements Bluetooth DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


Reconstruction filter is typical slow one:
Fiio BTR3 Filter Measurements Bluetooth DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


We care the most about power so let's sweep that starting with 300 ohm load:

Fiio BTR3 Power into 300 ohm Measurements Bluetooth DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


As predicted, there is hardly any power there:
best bluetooth receiver review 300.png


It is not much better at 32 ohm either:

Fiio BTR3 Power into 33 ohm Measurements Bluetooth DAC Headphone Amplifier.png

best bluetooth receiver review 33.png


Let's hope dynamic power is better than this in listening tests.

Fiio BTR3 Bluetooth Streaming Measurements
Since many people will use this with Bluetooth, let's stream some bits to it using the best codec available, LDAC:

Fiio BTR3 Filter Measurements Bluetooth Stremaing LDAC DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


There is no penalty for using BT which is nice. Dynamic range likewise is similar:

Fiio BTR3 DNR Measurements Bluetooth DAC Headphone Amplifier.png


Fiio BTR3 Headphone Listening Tests
As usual I start with my Sennheiser HD650 to test ability to drive high impedance headphones. As one would predict from the measurements, there is just no volume here. Bass is anemic as a result and overall sound is bland even at maximum volume. Switching to low impedance Drop Ether CX resulted in similar experience. Disappointing all around and not at all what I expect to hear from an add-on device for portable listening.

FYI above testing was performed using Roon my Samsung player streaming LDAC (same was used for measurements).

Conclusions
I have gotten tons of requests to measure the BTR3 so I take it that it is quite popular. That led me to think that it would perform well and was quite surprised to discover range of performance issues both objectively and subjectively. I like the functionality and such but if you are going to carry something extra, it needs to outperform what comes out of a portable device or a $9 dongle. Sadly we don't have that.

Needless to say, I can't recommend the Fiio BTR3.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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GWolfman

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Hmmm...

Does Fiio make any top-tier products? Or do I dare ask any above average? Links or product models are welcomed.
 

Ata

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OK, so this is worse than BTR5 as expected #113.
 

JustAnandaDourEyedDude

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Hmmm...

Does Fiio make any top-tier products? Or do I dare ask any above average? Links or product models are welcomed.
In the DAP category: I expect that FiiO M17 will compete with iBasso DX300 Max and maybe even with iBasso DX300 + Amp 12.
 

ErikG

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Jimbob54

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I think the BTR5 is the one touted as the competitor to the likes of the Qudelix- it better have more oomph than this
 

renandstimpy

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I have the Fiio BTR1K, and just use it for podcasts, in the supermarket, or on the bicycle, biggest boon being that you can replace the IEM when it breaks, which most of them do after a while. Maybe we shouldn't envision audiophiles as the target audience for these products ;-)
 

Jimbob54

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I have the Fiio BTR1K, and just use it for podcasts, in the supermarket, or on the bicycle, biggest boon being that you can replace the IEM when it breaks, which most of them do after a while. Maybe we shouldn't envision audiophiles as the target audience for these products ;-)

Probably not, but we should still sort the wheat from the chaff. If there are products with similar form and function that perform demonstrably better, then devices like this should be judged harshly.
 

vkvedam

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I think Topping's BC3 is a no brainer if it's Bluetooth that you want :confused:
 

buz

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I have the Fiio BTR1K, and just use it for podcasts, in the supermarket, or on the bicycle, biggest boon being that you can replace the IEM when it breaks, which most of them do after a while. Maybe we shouldn't envision audiophiles as the target audience for these products ;-)
I do much the same with my BTR3 & Sony MH755 :)

Also when I bought it, it was the only BT adapter that had anything better than aptx...

Also, the range with BT is abysmal.
 

firedog

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I have one of their other dongles, which seems like the same device, except it connects via a mini spdif connection instead of USB.
I only got it to turn a wired set of IEMs into BT capable - meaning the IEM's don't have to be physically connected to my phone for listening.
I suspect a lot of users buy such devices for a similar scenario.
So judged solely as a BT device, it probably sounds about as good as one would expect. No one listens to BT from their phone and expects hi-end sound.
 
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It's hard to believe, it is worse than the Apple USB-C to 3.5 for $9. However BTR3 is just a mid-range product. They have just launched a new BTR5, their most advanced product. Besides Shanling also launched UP5. Fiio BTR5 and Shanling UP5 will be 2 products directly competing with Qudelix 5K, hoping you will soon review it.
 

Remlab

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When I sent in my Oppo pm-3's, I had a little extra room in the box for a few products I wasn't using anymore, and this was one of them. Good Bluetooth in ear's like the AKG N400 or Lipertek Tevi are profoundly more convenient at the gym.
 

Atanasi

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Good Bluetooth in ear's like the AKG N400 or Lipertek Tevi are profoundly more convenient at the gym.
I cannot recommend the new Lypertek Pureplay Z3, Tevi's successor. It has a bothering level of background noise.
 
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