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FiiO BTR7 Review (Portable DAC & HP Amp)

Rate this portable DAC & HP Amp

  • 1. Poor (headless panther)

    Votes: 2 0.9%
  • 2. Not terrible (postman panther)

    Votes: 14 6.6%
  • 3. Fine (happy panther)

    Votes: 85 40.1%
  • 4. Great (golfing panther)

    Votes: 111 52.4%

  • Total voters
    212
I already answered that above
Correct sorry my mistake! I guess I do not understand correct? through 3.5mm to RCA adapter from headphone jack can connect to external amplifier?
Will it amplify twice(distortion issue)? Or it is then working as a dac only?
Thank you
 
Correct sorry my mistake! I guess I do not understand correct? through 3.5mm to RCA adapter from headphone jack can connect to external amplifier?
Will it amplify twice(distortion issue)? Or it is then working as a dac only?
Thank you
When plugged into an external Amp, the BTR7's internal Amp will basically be idling due to the high load impedance of an external Amp.
It'll still be part of the signal chain, but won't contribute nor take away from the sound in any meaningful way.
 
When plugged into an external Amp, the BTR7's internal Amp will basically be idling due to the high load impedance of an external Amp.
It'll still be part of the signal chain, but won't contribute nor take away from the sound in any meaningful way.
Thank you staticV3 for your response. So actually if BTR7 will be off and will work only as a dac? Right? Thank you
 
Just to clarify something someone brought up earlier -- does the boost option only work in bluetooth mode? There is no way to enable it when directly connected via lightning or usb-c?

Looking for a good solution for canjam, and if true does that mean in wired mode there is pretty much no audible difference between the BTR5 and BTR7?
 
Just to clarify something someone brought up earlier -- does the boost option only work in bluetooth mode? There is no way to enable it when directly connected via lightning or usb-c?
The Boost works wired or Bluetooth. While using it wired you can still connect to it using the app over BT and toggle stuff, if you disconnect it the boost mode stays on. It remembers the boost setting if you shut it down and turn it on again, it will be still be on "boost". Boost adds +2.1dB for me, testing with Edition XS and a handheld SPL meter.

@Doorstop5848 it drives the HE400SE at least at a moderate volume, I think using balanced would be advisable. It will go loud but the HE400SE is 25Ω and it will clip into 25Ω so you can't go to the max volume level (it would be much too loud though anyway). The HE400SE is actually one of Hifiman's harder to drive headphones at 91dB/mW claimed sensitivity (and actual measured sensitivity a bit less than that).
 
This is a review and detailed measurements of the FiiO BTR7 portable battery operated USB & Bluetooth DAC and THX balanced headphone amplifier. It is on kind loan from a member and costs US $199.99.
View attachment 225265
A bright, high contrast IPS LCD greets you with lovely/star-trek style fonts which I liked very much. I was also happy to see detailed information about the bit rate (24 "Bits" above). I would have wanted a larger volume level though. And acceleration in the volume control:
View attachment 225266

The rocker up/down volume control provides much finer level adjustment than that built into the operating system which was nice. On the left there is a very useful button to tell the unit to charge or not over USB input, eliminating having to have two such connectors:
View attachment 225267

The companion Bluetooth app provides nice control of the unit including the ability to "boost" the balanced output by fair bit. Alas, choice of DAC filters is not exposed so you have to use the unit's own UI to change that.

The unit is quite light with dimensions that are about 2/3 the size of a typical smartphone.

There is a ton of functionality in the unit including parametric EQ and wireless charging! I even appreciate the very flexible silicone USB-C wire to connect to your phone (which operated well with my Samsung).

There is a ton to measure here between multiple outputs, low and high gain plus balanced boost. I tried to navigate through the matrix without going crazy.

FiiO BTR7 Measurements
Let's start with our dashboard of unbalanced 3.5mm output at max volume:
View attachment 225269

Nice to see over 2 volts meaning you have a shot at getting decent output from high-impedance headphones. Performance degrades some though from the optimal 2 volts that pushes SINAD to 100 dB. You do get that in balanced mode however with and without boost:
View attachment 225270

View attachment 225271

This lands the unit in "very good" category of all DACs tested and is especially good for a portable product. Here is Bluetooth wireless using LDAC at 0.6 mbit/sec datarate:
View attachment 225275

Note that this involves Android OS resampling so can't quite say it is the native performance of the unit (I used my Roon player).

Multitone performance is quite good as well:
View attachment 225290

Noise performance is excellent for class:
View attachment 225272

For some reason though, unbalanced 3.5mm has better dynamic range as you can see in 50 mv test:
View attachment 225273
That lands the unit in well above average placement:
View attachment 225274

IMD performance is very good for class until it saturates:
View attachment 225277

Jitter is again excellent for a portable device:
View attachment 225278

Linearity lands in the same department:
View attachment 225279

Two reconstruction filters are provided:
View attachment 225282

Default is the red one which I do not recommend. It almost looks like it is using the filter for 48 kHz sampling.

THD+N vs frequency could be better:
View attachment 225280

Most important thing in this class of device is power output so let's measure balanced first:
View attachment 225285
I measured but do not show low gain mode as it only reduces output power but doesn't do anything else. Might as well use high gain. I like to see 100 milliwatts in desktop headphone amps. It is nice to see BTR7 coming so close to that in this small enclosure.

Here is 32 ohm:
View attachment 225286

This is tons more power than a headphone dongle. Devices with internal battery are inherently more capable in producing higher voltages and current needed.

You naturally lose good bit of power with unbalanced/3.5mm output:
View attachment 225287
View attachment 225288

But you get lower noise floor so better fit for IEMs.

FiiO BTR7 Headphone Listening Tests
I tested the unit with both Sennheiser HD650 and Drop Ether CX. In both cases there was plenty of volume, bass and detail. With HD650 I could almost get my ear lobes to resonate at max/unsafe volume. With Ether CX, deep bass with max volume would cause some distortion but you could back off and still have very usable volume. This is level of performance that you just can't get out of a typical dongle.

Conclusions
Features and look of the FiiO BTR7 alone would set it aside from competition, justifying its price premium. Add desktop class performance and you get a complete package that puts a smile on your face. Well, it did on my face. :)

I am happy to recommend FiiO BTR7.
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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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With such portable, battery powered devices, I believe battery life (or the amount of time the device runs before it needs recharging) should have been evaluated. In fact, this is one of the rare shortcomings I experienced with my new far-from-perfect BTR7. If it measures well, on the other hand I could only expect 4 hours of autonomy per full charge playing into IEMs (balanced mode). This battery life issue together with the clunky UI, a display with unrealized potential hardly providing any useful information and a disappointing app will all hopefully be addressed and improved in a forthcoming BTR8.

(Who loves well chatises as well or in other words "You have to be cruel to be kind")
 
With such portable, battery powered devices, I believe battery life (or the amount of time the device runs before it needs recharging) should have been evaluated. In fact, this is one of the rare shortcomings I experienced with my new far-from-perfect BTR7. If it measures well, on the other hand I could only expect 4 hours of autonomy per full charge playing into IEMs (balanced mode). This battery life issue together with the clunky UI, a display with unrealized potential hardly providing any useful information and a disappointing app will all hopefully be addressed and improved in a forthcoming BTR8.

(Who loves well chatises as well or in other words "You have to be cruel to be kind")
I think I get more than that with IEMs, and I have the battery set to 80% max charge. I got it for and mostly use it with overears, balanced.

Setting it to low gain (which is more than enough for any IEM) will help.

Using single ended (which is more than enough for any IEM) will help, I have most of my IEMs wired for 2.5mm balanced but use a 3.5mm adapter with the BTR7. If you look at the measurements, it actually has lower noise and distortion at a given level on the unbalanced. This has been corroborated by both Amir and Wolf's measurements. The better SINAD balanced is only because the level is so much higher, if you compare at the same power level, single ended is better. SE has lower output impedance too. So you'll actually get slightly higher quality (not that it's noticeable) out of the single ended, unless you need the extra power (which you don't for IEMs).

You will also get more life using a codec other than LDAC but that's a step too far, I want the better codec. Single ended and low gain are actually higher quality though so no reason not to use them.

One thing with Fiio devices though, they have poor battery management and if you leave them plugged in a lot that will wreck the battery. So if you've had this for a while and used it plugged in and charging at 100% a lot, I can totally believe your battery is down to four hours at this point. My BTR5 went that way, so I'm careful with this one and won't use it plugged in and set battery to 80% max.

Qudelix 5K is much better with this and will stop charging and run itself off USB power. I have two of these over a year and can leave them plugged in indefinitely with no battery harm. Fiio is always running off battery and either charging or not charging (depending on the switch). There's no way to have it just leave the battery alone and run off the USB power.
 
I am currently on 44K/24B how do i move up to 96K?

Please be kind i am clueless about this stuff
 
I am currently on 44K/24B how do i move up to 96K?

Please be kind i am clueless about this stuff
What device are you using to send audio to the BTR7, what OS is that device using, and how is it connected to the BTR7?
 
Yes sir I am
The only way to send 96kHz audio from your iPhone to the BTR7 is via USB. FiiO call this dongle mode:
Screenshot_20230909-202912_Chrome.png Screenshot_20230909-202944_Chrome.png
 
Friends, owners of Fiio BTR7, please help. I have an AstellKern SR25 player. I listen to the track on it and also on the external Arturia sound card. The sound is about the same, excellent. I bought Fiio BTR 7 yesterday for myself to bundle it with Pixel 7. I turn on the track on my Focal Celeste headphones, the sound is very flat at the bottom, there is little bass. The LDAC codec, everything to the quality maximum and the track is in FLAC. I turn on the same track through the wire to my smartphone - the same thing. I connect Fiio via USB to the computer and the sound is normal, it opens, there is bass, the scene appears, already much closer in sound to the player and the sound card.
Is it a bug or all people experience this?
 
If it occurs both wired and BT but only on your smartphone, and the BTR7 is fine wired to a PC, that suggests it's a setting on your smartphone. Look through the settings to disable all audio enhancements (Settings > Sound & Vibration). "Adaptive Sound" and "Spatial Audio" would be ones in particular to turn off if it's on. I've done this myself before, had Dolby Atmos on one DAC only and wondered why everything sounded off on that, I thought I was hearing DAC differences.

You could also try an app like USB Audio Player Pro (UAPP) that can take exclusive control of the DAC (when wired), see if this fixes it. If it does, it's definitely something on your phone that is changing the sound.
 
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