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Round-up of small, battery USB DAC/Amp/Bluetooth receiver devices

Asylum Seeker

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Small, battery USB DAC/Amp/Bluetooth receiver devices

To make the cut, USB DAC/Amp/Bluetooth receiver device has to meet the following criteria:
  • Self Powered - Possess its own internal battery
  • Small - no bigger than 30 cubic centimeters in volume
  • USB DAC - compatible with Android 9 and above as a DAC via USB-C
  • Headphone amp - 3.5mm jack single-ended output
  • BT - Bluetooth 5.0, LDAC, AptX, AptX-HD, AptX-LL
  • Price - under $150

1. FIIO BTR5
images



2. SHANLING UP4
Shanling-UP-4-Bluetooth-DAC-AMP-05_1024x1024.jpg
 
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Asylum Seeker

Asylum Seeker

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Why the limitation on release date?
Because I don't want to have to do the work of listing tens of devices from previous years. Plus these two seem to offer everything (and then some) over older devices. I can lift the release date limitation if you feel strongly about it. No worries.
 

Koloth

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Auris Amplify

Which I've been using since release (> half a year). Sound just fine to me with 0 audible noise floor (using good in-ears while working or commuting) and works flawlessly: never any hickups, connection losses or the like.
Battery life isnt amazing though and the built in signal tones (for battery alarms, connection confirmation etc.) will blow your eardrums out with sensitive IEMs, as they have clearly been calibrated with over-ears. Thats manageable though. (Just plug in the headphones after boot-up - and never let the battery get too low in the first place.)
Hey: 90$ - cant expect everything at such a price point.
 
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Asylum Seeker

Asylum Seeker

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Auris Amplify

Which I've been using since release (> half a year). Sound just fine to me with 0 audible noise floor (using good in-ears while working or commuting) and works flawlessly: never any hickups, connection losses or the like.
Battery life isnt amazing though and the built in signal tones (for battery alarms, connection confirmation etc.) will blow your eardrums out with sensitive IEMs, as they have clearly been calibrated with over-ears. Thats manageable though. (Just plug in the headphones after boot-up - and never let the battery get too low in the first place.)
Hey: 90$ - cant expect everything at such a price point.

Sorry, this neither works as a USB DAC nor does it support Bluetooth 5.0.
 
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bobbooo

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Qudelix 5K (from the developer of the ES100):

2000_5dbb84b8b8a38.jpg


  • Qualcomm QCC5124 Bluetooth System-on-Chip
  • Dual ES9218P SABRE HiFi® DAC
    • 3.5mm Unbalanced output max. 2.0V RMS
    • 2.5mm Balanced output max. 4.0V RMS
  • BT5.0 - aptX Adaptive, LDAC, AAC, aptX-HD, aptX, aptX-LL, SBC
  • Max. 21 hours battery time / 500mA Battery
  • High-Resolution USB DAC 96KHz / 24-bit
  • Dual-Core 32-bit KALIMBA DSP
  • 20-band 64-bit Double Precision Parametric / Graphic EQ
  • 8 x DAC Filters
  • Dual Precision Audio Clock
  • Hybrid Volume Control with 0.5dB step
  • High Sensitivity Flexible PCB Antenna
  • Qualcomm® cVc™ noise cancellation technology
    • High Sensitivity MEMS Microphone
    • Earphone Inline Remote/Mic. Support
  • Companion mobile app for iOS/Android
  • OTA (Over-The-Air) Firmware Updates
  • 53.2(H) x 26.7(W) x 16.1(D) mm including clip
  • Designed and manufactured in Seoul, Korea
  • $99
 
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Asylum Seeker

Asylum Seeker

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Koloth

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Sorry, this neither works as a USB DAC nor does it support Bluetooth 5.0.

It does support BT5.0.

You are correct though that it doesnt work as a USB-DAC. Not sure why thats relevant though, as I wouldnt use this as a desktop amp anyway, and all portable devices capable of outputting audio over USB certainly also support BT.
 

bobbooo

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It does support BT5.0.

You are correct though that it doesnt work as a USB-DAC. Not sure why thats relevant though, as I wouldnt use this as a desktop amp anyway, and all portable devices capable of outputting audio over USB certainly also support BT.

I think a lot of people (especially on this forum who prioritise sound quality) would want the option of a wired USB connection for lossless audio, while still having Bluetooth for convenience when you want that (e.g. while exercising). Personally, I could see myself using such a device as a desktop amp as well - I see no reason not to, particularly the Qudelix 5K which can output 4V RMS balanced.
 
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Asylum Seeker

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I think a lot of people (especially on this forum who prioritise sound quality) would want the option of a wired USB connection for lossless audio, while still having Bluetooth for convenience when you want that (e.g. while exercising). Personally, I could see myself using such a device as a desktop amp as well - I see no reason not to, particularly the Qudelix 5K which can output 4V RMS balanced.

Bingo!
 

Koloth

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It's relevant for two reasons. One, because it is a criterion to make it on this list. Please check the criteria above. Two, because I would use it primarily in that function.

Since its a public post on a public forum designed to find an audience the products reviewed should be of some general interest. You may be interested in a potato masher that doubles as a whisk, most people would be better served though simply having seperate comparative reviews of potato mashers and whisks instead of a narrow comparison that focuses only on a tiny intersection while ignoring products of great potential in their primary functions.

But it's all good: The products you've narrowed down seem well worth exploring.
 
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Asylum Seeker

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Shanling UP2
Screenshot_20200301-205649_Chrome.jpg


Screenshot_20200301-205810_Chrome.jpg
 
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Asylum Seeker

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Fiio BTR3K
 
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Asylum Seeker

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Fiio BTR3K
 
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Asylum Seeker

Asylum Seeker

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Fiio BTR3K
 
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Asylum Seeker

Asylum Seeker

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Fiio BTR3K
 

Certainkindoffool

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I wouldn't have paid the $129 list price. But, it was $40 from drop, and I have quite enjoyed it. I've never tried using it as a usb dac from android, but it does work with windows.

Bluewave-GET-Detailed-Specs-1-429x1024.jpg
 
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Asylum Seeker

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Certainkindoffool

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You are correct. Out of curiosity though, why the insistence on BT5.0? It was my understanding that all the relevant audio features were available with BT4.2. I believe all you are getting with BT5.0 in this application is increased range and lower power consumption.
 
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Asylum Seeker

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You are correct. Out of curiosity though, why the insistence on BT5.0? It was my understanding that all the relevant audio features were available with BT4.2. I believe all you are getting with BT5.0 in this application is increased range and lower power consumption.
Yes, BT5.X offers that and quicker, more trouble-free pairing. My JBL BT speakers are BT4.2. They are noticeably finickier in connecting. BT is up to 5.2 now. No way I would buy BT 4.x in 2020.
 
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