FiiO BTR5 Review

 

 

 

 

 

FiiO BTR5 Bluetooth DAC/AMP Review

  

Introduction:

The BTR5 is the crown and latest member of the FiiO BTR Series Portable Bluetooth Receiver & Amplifier.

The FiiO BTR5 is a device with some interesting hardware features like 2 x ES9218P DAC’s, Qualcomm’s CSR8675 Bluetooth Chip, FPGA + Dual Independent Crystal Oscillator, 3.5mm Single Ended + 2.5mm Balanced out and many more.

Product Link: https://www.fiio.com/btr5

 

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank FiiO for providing me the FiiO BTR5 as review sample. I am not affiliated with FiiO beyond this review and these words reflect my true and unaltered, opinions about the product.

 

 

Price:

The actual MSRP price for the FiiO BTR5 is 149,95 USD and can be found under the following links;

 

Package and Accessories:

The device comes in a relative small black card-box that sports the product image on the top cover and some technical detail on the back.

This box is containing the following items/accessories;

  • 1 x FiiO BTR5 Portable Bluetooth Receiver & Amplifier
  • 1 x USB mini to USB Type-C cable for data cable and charging
  • 1 x Transparent Plastic Case with Back Clip
  • 1 x Quick Start Guide
  • 1 x Warranty card

 

 

 

Design, Buttons and Build Quality:

The FiiO BTR5 is a beautiful looking device with a solid appearance, which has a middle frame that is made of aluminum alloy, with 2.5D tempered glass on the front and back. The glass panel has according to FiiO specs a hardness of 6H which should be pretty scratch resistant during normal use.

The BTR5 gives me the feel of a nice to hold object in my hands. It is taller and heavier compared to the  BTR3 (43,7 gram versus 26 gram) and has a dimension of 72×32×11.1mm (exclusive back clip case) that fits perfect in to the small pocket of my jeans.

On the front of the FiiO BTR5 is the shiny black glass panel with nicely rounded, so called 2.5D edges. The surface has an oleophobic coating that keeps off fingerprints but makes it also a bit slippery.

Here is also a small but pretty useful 0.49 inch monochromatic OLED display with a resolution of 64×32 pixels. This display gives information’s and helps to navigate options like the Bluetooth Codec Status (AAC, Aptx, LDAC, etc.), Filters, EQ, Display Brightness, etc.

Near the bottom of the front glass panel is the NFC logo and antenna which is a useful features to pair the BTR5 with NFC supported devices.

The chassis of the BTR5 is made of CNC machined metal which is in black color like the rest of the device.

On of this chassis are the microphone, multifunctional power button, the malfunctioned play/pause/paring button and navigation button (volume up/down, track and menu select).

At the bottom of the FiiO BTR5 is the USB Type-C data and charging port.

On the top of the device are the 3.5mm single ended (TRS) and 2.5mm balanced (TRRS) headphone outputs.

Atn the back side of the device is the same glass panel with 2.5D rounded edges. Here is the FiiO brand logo, the Hi-Res Audio/Hi-Res Wireless Logos and some technical detail + industrial certifications.

The overall build quality of the FiiO BTR5 is top notch and I really like the design combination which is simplistic and esthetic at the same time.

 

 

 

Specifications:
  • Model                         : FiiO BTR5
  • Audio Input                 : Bluetooth V4.5
  • Supported Codec’s     : AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX Low Latency, aptX HD, LDAC and LHDC
  • Bluetooth chip            : Qualcomm CR8675
  • DAC                            : Sabre ESS9218P x 2
  • Frequency Response  : 20~20kHz(aptX connection), 20~40kHz(LDAC connection)
  • THD+N                       : PO<0.003%(LDAC 1kHz), BAL<0.002%(LDAC 1kHz A)
  • SNR                            : PO≥118dB (32Ω  A-weighted), BAL≥122dB (32Ω  A-weighted)
  • Output                        : 3.5mm Single Ended & 2.5mm Balanced
  • Output Power  PO      : 90mW@16 Ohm / 80mW@32 Ohm
  • Output Power  BAL     : 240mW@16 Ohm / 240mW@32 Ohm
  • Output Impedance     : PO≤1.0Ω(32Ω loaded) /BAL≤2.0Ω(32Ω loaded)
  • Crosstalk        PO        : ≥ 95dB(1kHz no loaded)
  • Crosstalk        BAL       : ≥ 118dB(1kHz 32Ω loaded), BAL≥119dB(1kHz no loaded)
  • Drivability                   : 16~100Ω(PO)/ 16~150Ω(BAL)
  • Battery                        : 550mAH
  • Battery Life                 : approx 9hours
  • Charging Time            : ≤1.5 h (DC 5V 500mA)
  • USB Port                     : USB Type C
  • Size                             : About 72×32×11.1mm (exclusive of back clip)
  • Weight                        : 43,7 g (incl. battery)

 

 

Hardware and Functionality:

The FiiO BTR5 is the flagship Portable Bluetooth DAC & Amplifier of the company that has some interesting hardware features like 2 x ES9218P DAC’s, Qualcomm’s CSR8675 Bluetooth Chip, FPGA + Dual Independent Crystal Oscillator, 3.5mm Single Ended + 2.5mm Balanced out and many more that I will now review for you for you in depth.

 

a) DAC Section:

The FiiO BTR5 has the 2 x ES9218P SABRE HiFi SoC’s under the hood which features the company’s patented 32-bit “HyperStream” architecture and delivers a SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) of 118dB over the Phone Out and ≥122dB (32Ω  A-weighted)t over the Balanced output. The Total Harmonic Distortion (THD+N) is 0.003% (LDAC 1kHz) with the Phone Out, while the Balanced out has a THD-N of <0.002% (LDAC 1kHz).

b) Bluetooth Chip:

The Qualcomm CR8675 Bluetooth chip used in the BTR5 is a Bluetooth 5.0 capable premium low-power solution designed for enhanced audio applications with support for 24-bit transmission and processing, thanks to its 120MHz DSP. This chip is also much more stable in signal strength than other competing chips, especially in situations with lots of interference.

Supported Audio Codes: AAC/SBC/aptX/aptX LL/ aptX HD/LDAC

 

 

c) Outputs / Amplification / Drivability:

The BTR5 features both 3.5mm Single Ended (TRS) and 2.5mm Balanced (TRRS) output and has a truly balanced audio architecture, which means that each channel is driven separately from the other with its own DAC and amplifier.

The BTR5 is capable to deliver an output power of 220mW @ 32ohm and 7.6Vpp at 300 ohm over the 2.5mm Balanced (TRRS) headphone out, which is quite impressive for such a small device.

The FiiO BTR5 has two gain options which are Low & High gain. The BTR5 has plenty of juice to drive my Audio-Technica ATH M50 to very loud levels over the 3.5mm Headphone out at volume set to 50 out of 60.

 

d) Bluetooth Performance & Pairing:

The Bluetooth operating distance of the FiiO BTR5 works flawlessly up to 3 – 4 meters if there is a wall between you and the source, while it increases up to 9 – 10 meters in open environments.

There was no remarkable latency that I have tested with some YouTube videos by pairing the BTR5 with my Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus phone.

The pairing of the FiiO BTR5 with sources like Android/iOS phones, tablets, etc are quite easy. You have also the option to pair it to other compatible devices with just a simple tap by using the NFC wireless short-range communication protocol, entirely avoiding the cumbersome traditional pairing process.

 

e) XMOS XUF 208 Chip & USB DAC function:

In addition to its lossless Bluetooth format support, the BTR5 is also quite capable device when it comes to USB Decoding. The BTR5 unitizes the XMOS XUF208 control chip which allows it an asynchronous audio decoding under USB class 2.0. When you connect the BTR5 as USB DAC through the USB Type-C connector it can decode up to 384kHz sampling rates and Native DSD which is a nice addition.

The USB DAC functionality supports 2 modes that you can select over the settings menu of the BTR5 that you can access over the menu (play/pause) button. Those 2 modes are the driverless (over USB 1.0) and high performance mode (over USB 2.0). The high performance mode requires the download and installation of drivers for Windows PC’s, which you can find on FiiO’s official website.

Technical support for Link: http://fiio-file.fiio.net/FiiO_USB_DAC_Driver-V4.47.0.zip

 

The USB DAC functionality of the FiiO BTR5 can also used with phones, which need to be equipped with a dedicated USB adapter (OTG) cable, such as the FiiO LT-TC1. Now most mobile phones can be supported USB DAC after installing the FiiO Music APP, but since the current USB audios of various brands’ phones are not standardized FiiO can’t guarantee to be fully compatible.

Your phone would be reversed for charging, so you need to enter the settings menu and set the charge of the BTR5 to ‘OFF’.

 

f) Battery Life:

The FiiO BTR5 has a 550 mAh build-in battery, which takes 1.5 hours to fully charge. According to FiiO specs should this battery last for around 9 Hours with a single charge by using the AAC codec volume 40 of 60.

My experience shows that the battery of the FiiO BTR5 is actually capable to last around 8 hours over the 3.5mm out and 6 – 6.5 hours over the 2.5mm Balanced out.

 

 

g) Hissing:

The sound over the 3.5mm/2.5mm headphone jack sounds pretty clean with nearly zero hissing and a very clean background, which even better than those of the BTR3.

 

h) Microphone:

The FiiO BTR5 has a so called omnidirectional built-in microphone with cVc 8.0 noise cancellation technology that pretty effectively suppresses background noises, while the 3.5mm headphone out supports CITA certified headsets.

The performance of the build-in microphone was pretty good during some of my voice conversations.

 

 

Equipments used for this review:
  • Devices          : FiiO BTR5, Radsone Earstudio ES100
  • IEM’s              : FiiO FH5, FiiO FA7, FiiO FH7
  • Earbuds         : Penon BS1 Offical, Astrotec Lyra Collection (32ohm)
  • Headphones  : Audio-Technica ATH50M

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:
  • Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Photek – Hidden Camera (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (DSF) – Binaural Recording
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Wav 24bit/88kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Spotify)
  • Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Tom Player – Resonace Theory (16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Portishead – The Hidden Camera (MP3 320kbps)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Opeth – Damnation (Wav 16bit/44kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Elton John – Your Song (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • David Bowie – Black Star (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Unplugged Album (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • B.B. King – Riding With The King (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • First Aid Kit – My Silver Lining (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • London Grammar – Interlude (Live) (Flac 24bit/88kHz)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say a Little Prayer (Wav 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Laura Pergolizzi – Lost On You “Live at Harvard and Stone” (Wav 16bit/44.1kHz)

 

 

 

 

The Sound:

The FiiO BTR5 is a Bluetooth DAC/AM with a pretty flat, close to neutral tonality.  The general presentation is not too sterile/dry or too warm and can be describes with the body that is comes with its powerful output as quite balanced.

PS: My FiiO BTR5 sound analysis is based on the 2.5mm Balanced (TRRS) output which shows a better performance in terms of overall sound quality.

 

3.5mm single ended (TRS) versus 2.5mm balanced (TRRS) out:

As I have mentioned above, my reviews is based on the 2.5 mm balanced out, but why I did such a choice.

In short; the first difference of the 2.5mm balanced out compared to the 3.5mm single ended output is the higher output power and the darker background. The subbass region of the 2.5mm output shows also more intensity and depth, while the midrange has slightly better resolution & detail retrieval. The difference in terms of treble extension is quite low, while the soundstage of the 2.5mm balanced out shows slightly better depth, width and separation.

 

 

Bass: 

FiiO BTR5 meets the subbass expectations that can go down fairly well for a Bluetooth DAC/AMP. Although the subbass is not that deep, the existing depth is sufficient for most music genres. The subbass intensity and resolution in subbass intensive tracks like Massive Attack’s “Angle” or Portishead’s “It Could Be Sweet” is on a fairly good level.

The FiiO BTR5 has a pretty controlled, fast and mildly emphasized midbass tuning. What makes the BTR5 quite good in this area is the overall control. The BTR5 didn’t show any unwanted situations like mixings, midbass hump or muddiness. The quantity and intensity should be sufficient for most listeners, with exception for does that prefer a midbass tuning which could be on a bass-head level.

The bass speed from percussion instruments up to drums and guitars are very fast, which is a great ability, especially for such a small Bluetooth DAC/AMP.

The overall bass quantity of the FiiO BTR5 can be located two units under the basshead level and one unit over the reference line. The bass of the was successful in terms of speed and tightness while listening to instruments like bass drums or snare drums and will satisfy many listeners in terms of dynamism.

 

 

Midrange:

The FiiO BTR5 has a transparent and pretty neutral midrange presentation. It has not the warmest or fullest midrange tuning but is also not too dry or sterile. The lower midrange of the FiiO BTR5 shows an average depth.

Male vocals do sound clean, lively and pretty detailed, while I would whish slightly more body. Female vocals on the other hand are transparent, airy and quite detailed, especially for a device at this price range. If you do like to listen mainly to female vocals the BTR5 will be the perfect solution.

The instrument presentation of the FiiO BTR5 is neither too thin nor too bold/thick. Instruments like guitars are slightly bright and do shows a good level of extension. Violins on the other hand do sound detailed and with a good level of intensity, while side flutes are bright, stirring and fast.

The general instrument tonality is clear and distinctive, which makes the BTR5 to a highly competitive Wireless Bluetooth DAC/AMP.

 

Upper Midrange and Treble:

FiiO BTR5 has a strong, pronounced and very clear upper midrange presentation. The upper midrange transitions are in most situations fairly controlled. The upper midrange is petty well adjusted, so that here are no remarkable negative conditions such as over sharpness/brightness. From the female vocals up to the violins and the pianos, the upper mid extension, emphasis and detail retrieval is on a quite good level.

When it comes to the treble range I can say that the FiiO BTR5 performs above its price range, especially in terms of treble speed, separation and extension. This frequency region is also very airy and spacious. The BTR5 shows a close neutral, bright and transparent tonality with a pretty good level of detail retrieval.

All songs I listened from Chopin’s Nocturne’s up to Gogo Penguin’s Jazz songs or Zhrine’s very fast drums passages did sound pretty successful in terms of treble extension, intensity and sharpness.

Treble intensive instruments like hi-hats are distinctive and are presented with a pretty successful level of extension, while crash and ride cymbals do sound quite clear. What I really like about the treble range of the BTR5 is that it shows a very good speed in complex genres like metal and jazz, and is also controlled/fatigue free in other type of songs like edm or pop music.

 

 

Soundstage:

The soundstage of the FiiO BTR5 is fairly expansive for a realistic instrument placement and overall clarity. The expansive stage and neutral tonality of the BTR5 makes the overall soundstage presentation quite spacious and airy. The soundstage performance is great in terms of wideness, while the depth is on an average level.

 

 

Comparison:

FiiO BTR5 versus Earstudio ES100:

The Earstudio ES100 has in general a softer and smoother overall presentation compared to the FiiO BTR5. Both devices have a very clear output with very low to none hissing. The background is clear and the separation is pretty good on both Bluetooth DAC/AMP’s. The midbass and subbass character of the BTR5 and the ES100 is fairly similar and do show only small differences.

The midrange of the BTR5 sounds more transparent and neutral compared to the ES100, while the ES100 has a smother, softer and slightly more musical presentation.

The upper midrange and treble region of the BTR5 is more pronounced and has a higher level of intensity. The FiiO BTR5 is superior in terms of upper midrange and treble detail, while the Earstudio ES100 shows a softer and slightly more controlled presentation.

The soundstage of both Bluetooth devices has a sufficient performance for a good instrument and vocal separation with high amount of airiness and space. The FiiO BTR5 has the upper hand in terms of soundstage width, while the ES100 is slightly better in terms of depth.

 

 

Conclusion:

I have spent a lot of time with the FiiO BTR5 and was by the end very impressed with its natural, clear and pretty detailed presentation. It has everything that a portable wireless & wired DAC/AMP should have; an above average sound quality, support of all actual Bluetooth codes, a powerful 2.5mm balanced & 3.5mm single ended output which are packed in a small, solid and nice looking modern device. All of these features are offered for a reasonable price which makes the BTR5 to one of my favorite budget audiophile devices.

 

 

Pos and Cons:
  •  + Clear and Neutral Presentation
  • + Treble Detail & Extension
  • + Upper Midrange Control
  • + Beautiful and Solid Build Quality
  • + Works as Wireless & Wired USB DAC/AMP
  • + Plenty of Power over the 2.5mm Balanced Out
  • + Support of All Actual Codes
  • – The Glass Surface Beautiful but a Fingerprint Magnet
  • – Maybe a tad too Neutral Tonality (Subjective)
  • – Lower midrange Depth

 

 

 

 

 

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