FiiO BTR7 Portable BT&USB DAC/AMP Review

 

 

 

 

 

FiiO BTR7 Portable Bluetooth & USB DAC/AMP Review

 

 

 

Introduction:

The BTR7 is FiiO’s latest flagship All-in One BT & USB DAC Amplifier with MQA support, which offers some impressive hardware features such like Dual ESS9219C DAC Chips, Qualcomm’s latest QCC5124 Bluetooth Chipset with LDAC, aptX HD, aptX LL, aptX, AAC, SBC audio codec support, XMOS XUF208 USB input, THX AAA™ Achromatic Audio Amplifier & Fully Balanced Design and many more that I will now review for you.

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank FiiO for providing me the FiiO BTR7 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 & Availability:

The actual MSRP price for the FiiO BTR7 is 199.99 USD. Detailed information’s can be found under the link below;

 

 

 

Package & Accessories:

The BTR7 came inside a box that is wrapped with a fancy looking black cardboard sleeve that reflects the companies new package design. It shows the illustration of the device and some branding (Hi-Res, LDAC, etc.) on its surface.

This box is containing the following items/accessories;

 

  • 1 x FiiO BTR7 Portable Bluetooth DAC/Amplifier
  • 1 x USB A to USB Type-C cable for data cable and charging
  • 1 x USB Type-C to USB Type-C Low Profile Data Cable
  • 1 x Leather Case
  • 1 x Quick Start Guide
  • 1 x Warranty card

 

The BTR7 comes with a very well made and design wise very esthetic looking premium leather case in grey color.

The leather case has an excellent craftsmanship.

The right surface has the button assignment that makes it easier to navigate.

It is great to see that FiiO has added such a nice leather case in to the box of the BTR7.

 

 

 

Design & Build Quality:

The BTR7 is a gorgeous looking little device that reflects FiiO’s new design langue that adopts some pretty similar esthetic elements we have seen on devices like the M11 Plus. The FiiO BTR7 a very portable and pretty lightweight Bluetooth DAC/Amplifier with dimensions of about 39.6×83.6×14.6mm that weights only about 68 grams, ideal to throw it in to your pocket and use it on the go.

The main chassis is made from laminated aluminum alloy material with a black fisnish that reminds me to the look of the M11 Plus that I really like to hold in my hand. The overall build quality of the devices is excellent same like any other FiiO product and fulfills my expectation from a device at this price level.

The BTR7 is the first devise of the BTR Series that comes with a color display. The display is located on the top of the front surface that is laminated behind the glass surface that covers the surface of this area.

It’s a 1.3 inch IPS color display with a pixel density of 240×240 that is used to display a new UI specially designed for the new BTR7.

The main screen gives information about battery, gain, volume status and many more. Moreover you can see the actual Bluetooth Pairing status, Bluetooth Codec, while there is a submenu that gives you access to the settings (Filters, EQ, Display Brightness, etc.) of the device.

The right surface of the device sports a small opening for the microphone that is dedicated for voice calls, which is a nice addition.

Hear are also the multifunctional power button (power on/off, activate menu, exit menu, etc.), the Play/Pause Button (works also as reconnect, pairing, confirm, voice assistant activation, button), Navigation button (Volume Up/Down, Previous/Next Track) and the charging switch.

Near the bottom of these surface is the charging switch that has a nice hexagonal design. This switch is a smart solution inn order to easly stop the charging of the device while connected to a USB source, which is good fro the healt of the build in battery.

However, the navigation takes a bit of getting used to, if you want to access the submenus, especially when you use it with the leather case.

On the top of the BTR7 are the 4.4mm Balanced and 3.5mm Single Ended analog outputs.

At the bottom of the device is the USB Type-C Data (for USB DAC purposes) and charging port.

At the rear side of the device is a glass surface that sports the FiiO brand logo on the top.

Near the bottom are the Hi-Res Audio/Hi-Res Audio Wireless, MQA, THX logos and some industrial standards and certifications about the device.

 

 

 

Technical Specifications:

  • Model                         : BTR7
  • Display                       : 1.3 inch IPS Color Display with 240×240 resolution
  • Bluetooth Chip            : Qualcomm QCC5124
  • Bluetooth Version       : Bluetooth V5.1
  • Supported Codec’s    : AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX Low Latency, aptX HD, LDAC and LHDC
  • DAC                           : 2x Sabre ESS9219C
  • Frequency Response : 20~20kHz(aptX connection), 20~50kHz(LDAC connection)
  • THD+N                       : PO<0.00055% / Balanced <0.00048%
  • SNR                           : PO≥118dB (32Ω  A-weighted), BAL≥115dB (32Ω  A-weighted)
  • Sampling Rate           : 384kHz/32bit (USB DAC)
  • USB in DSD Support : 384KHz 32bit/ DSD256
  • Output Interface         : 3.5mm Single Ended & 4.4mm Balanced
  • Output Power  PO      : 165mW@16 Ohm / 160mW@32 Ohm  / 18mW@300 Ohm
  • Output Power BAL     : 235mW@16 Ohm / 320mW@32 Ohm  / 40mW@300 Ohm
  • Output Impedance     : PO≤1.8Ω(32Ω loaded) /BAL≤2.8Ω(32Ω loaded)
  • Amplitude                   : PO:2.3Vrms / BAL: 3.2Vrms
  • Crosstalk        PO      : ≥ 75dB
  • Crosstalk        BAL     : ≥ 107dB
  • Recommended Imp.  : 16~100Ω(PO)/ 16~150Ω(BAL)
  • Battery                        : 880mAH
  • Battery Life                 : approx 9hours
  • Wired charging           : ≤1.5 hours
  • Wireless charging       : ≤3 hours
  • USB Port                    : USB Type C
  • USB Input                   : Xmos XU208
  • Dimensions                : about 39.6×83.6×14.6mm
  • Weight                        : about 68 grams

 

 

 

 

 

Hardware & Functionality:

The BTR7 is the flagship Portable Bluetooth DAC & Amplifier and USB DAC of the company that offers some pretty interesting hardware features such like 2 x ES9219C DAC Chips, Qualcomm’s latest QCC5124 Bluetooth Chip, 2x THX AAA-28 amplifiers, XMOS XUF208 Chip, 3.5mm Single Ended + 4.4mm Balanced outputs Wireless Charging and many more.

 

 

Dual DAC ESS9219C:

The FiiO BTR7 will feature an ESS9219C SABRE DAC chipset with 32-bit “HyperStream” architecture, which delivers a SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) of 118dB over both the 3.5mm Single Ended and 4.4mm Balanced (TRRRS) outputs.

 

 

Bluetooth & USB DAC Functions:

The FiiO BTR7 comes with Qualcomm’s QCC5124 BT SoC that supports the BT 5.1 protocol and formats like SBC, AAC, aptX LL (LL = Low Latency), aptX HD, aptX Adaptive and LDAC.

Moreover, the BTR7 is a very capable All-in One device that offers Hi-Res USB Input capabilities, in addition to its lossless Bluetooth format support. The BTR7 will be equipped with a XMOS XUF208 chip that gives it the ability to work as USB DAC/Amplifier, which will support sampling rates up to 32 bit/384kHz and Native DSD256.

 

 

Outputs & Amplification (THX AAA):

The FiiO BTR7 offers a fully balanced audio architecture, which means that each channel is driven separately. It will be equipped with both 3.5mm Single Ended (TRS) and 4.4mm Balanced (TRRRS) balanced outputs.

Another remarkable feature is the THX AAA™ “Achromatic Audio Amplifier” design that was used to create a clean and pretty powerful analog output. The 3.5mm Single Ended interface has an output power of 150mW @ 32ohm, while the 4.4mm Balanced port is even more powerful with up to 300mW @32ohm.

 

Bluetooth Performance & Pairing:

The BTR7 comes with FiiO’s patented metal frame antenna design in order to archive a stable and interference-free Bluetooth connection, which seems to work pretty well!

The Bluetooth operating distance of the FiiO BTR7 up to a distance of 9 – 10 meters in open areas, while latency starts about 6 meters if there is a wall. The BTR7 benefits from its LDAC and aptX LL (LL = Low Latency) codec support, which is a remarkable feature while watching a Video on YouTube, Netfix, Amazon, etc. I didn’t noticed any remarkable lip-sync issue, when paired with my Samsung Galaxy Note 10Plus

The pairing of the FiiO BTR7 with sources like Android/iOS phones, tablets, etc are quite easy. Just power on de device and the device will automatically start in pairing mode.

 

 

Battery Life & Wireless Charging:

The FiiO BTR7 comes with a 880mAh built-in battery that offers up to 9 hours of continues audio playback with the AAC over the 3.5mm balanced output. The charging process will take about 1.5 hours over the USB Type-C port.

The battery life of the BTR7 is pretty good, especially for its size and output power. Here are some results and testing conditions.

 

  • ~ 9 hours – AAC Codec, 3.5mm SE Output, Volume %50
  • ~ 7 Hours – LDAC, 3.5mm SE Output, Volume %50
  • ~ 6 – 6.5 Hours – LDAC, 4.4mm Balanced Output, Volume %40

 

The BTR7 is the first Bluetooth DAC/Amp that supports wireless charging, which is a great addition. I have used my Samsung Note 10 Plus as Wireless charging source that worked perfectly.

 

Background Noise / Hissing:

The sound output over both the 3.5mm Single Ended and the 4.4mm Balanced outputs is very clean in terms of white noise. There is nearly zero hissing and a pretty dark background, which is quite impressive. Such a clean output means that you will have better conditions to concentrate to the details in your song.

 

Microphone:

The FiiO BTR7 is equipped with an omnidirectional built-in microphone that offers a decent noise cancellation performance. The performance of the build-in microphone was pretty good during some of my voice conversations.

 

MQA Support:

The FiiO BTR7 supports the latest MQA decoding to experience Master Quality Audio files. The source device should be loaded with MQA supported software such as UAPP, Tidal, etc.

 

FiiO Control App:

The BTR7 supports FiiO’s Control Application that allows for managing different functions on the units. You can adjust the EQ settings, Channel Balance and other Audio options of the device. Even an OTA (Over the Air) FW update is possible.

 

 

 

Equipments used for this review:

  • BT DAC/AMP : FiiO BTR7, Shanling UP5
  • Sources         : FiiO M11 Plus, Samsung Note 10 Plus
  • IEM’s              : FiiO FH9, FiiO FA7S, Meze Audio ADVAR
  • Headphones  : Moondrop Void

 

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:

  • Adele – My Little Love (Spotify)
  • Randy Crawford – On Day I Will Fly Away (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album (Dezzer HiFi)
  • Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Sonya Yoncheva – (Giuseppe Verdi) II Trovatore, ActI (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • George Michael – Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Elton John – Rocket Man ((Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • B.B. King – Riding With The King (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Dave Gahan – Kingdom (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Bro Safari, UFO! – Drama (Deezer HiFi)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Daft Punk – Doin’ it Right (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Jo Blankenburg – Meraki (Spotify)
  • Lorde – Royals (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
  • Gogo Penguin – Raven (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Gogo Penguin – Murmuration (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • GoGo Penguin – Fanfares (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Portishead – It Could Be Sweet (Spotify)
  • Max Richter – On the Nature of Daylight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Ferit Odman – Look, Stop & Listen (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
  • Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)

 

 

  

 

The Sound:

The FiiO BTR7 offers a pretty clean, natural and detailed overall presentation, while it shows a tad warmer than neutral tonality. The lows are shown with a good level of body/volume, depth and authority, the midrange has a decent sense of clarity and resolution, while the treble range is represented with successful grade of separation, extension and sparkle.

This review has been written after a burn-in period of about 50 hours. My sound impressions below are based on my experiences over the 4.4mm Balanced output paired with IEM’s like the FiiO FH9, Meze Audio ADVAR and FiiO FA7S.

 

Bass: 

The lower frequency region of the FiiO BTR7 sounds pretty uncolored and detailed. Both the subbass and the midbass regions are shown in a clean and controlled manner. The subbass area has a good level of rumble and intensity when I do pair the BTR7 with the FiiO FH9 an do listen to songs like Lorde’s “Royals”, Massive Attack’s “Angle” or Armin Van Buuren’s “Vini Vici” that do sound pretty exiting.

The midbass area sounds again pretty transparent and detailed, without to have negative conditions such like a midbass hump or mixings when I do listen to fast and complex passages such like Gogo Penguin’s “Murmuration”. Percussion instruments such like cross drums or brass instruments like trumpets do sound pretty accented and are reproduced with a mildly warm tonality. Other instruments such like electro and acoustic guitars are shown with a good amount of body and warmth, while toms and kick drums are punchy and quite musical when I do pair the device with my FA7S.

 

Midrange:

The FiiO BTR7 has a fairly neutral and quite detailed and spacious overall midrange presentation. It has a slightly warmer than neutral tonality that avoids a too sterile and dry atmosphere in this area. The sense of airiness and transparency is pretty good, epically when I do listen to it with the Meze Audio ADVAR.

Male vocals such like George Michael, Barry White or Sting do sound lively and emotional, which is an audible improvement after the BTR5. Female vocals on the other hand are reproduced in a pretty vivid, detailed and emotional manner. Female voices including soprano vocals such like Sertap Erener and Hayley Westenra did sound fairly controlled and emotional both when paired with the FiiO FA7S and Meze Audio ADVAR, without to show a remarkable sibilance or harshness.

The successful sense of transparency and airiness found in the midrange of the BTR7 creates good conditions for instruments. They are shown with a good level of separation for an Ultra Portable BT DAC/AMP, which is a remarkable advantage you do listen to songs with complex and relative instrument dense passages such like GoGo Penguin’s “Fanfares”. Instruments such like pianos, cymbals, flutes or cellos are reproduced in a pretty detailed, lively and fairly natural manner.

 

Treble:

The FiiO BTR7 shows a fairly natural and almost uncolored treble response with solid grade of resolution that will definitely fulfill your expectation from an ultra portable source at this price range.

A remarkable plus point of the treble range is the authority & control that the BTR7 offers in this area. Songs with fast and complex instrument transitions such like Charly Antolini’s “Duwadjuwandadu” are reproduced in a pretty controlled way.

The BTR7 is able to produce a decent sense of resolution and sparkle in this area, when I have listened to it with both the FiiO FH9 and Meze Audio ADVAR. Instruments from violins to synthesizers, from pianos to flutes do sound quite natural and musical, without o be show unwanted sharpness.

Other treble intensive instruments such like cymbals or hi-hats in both jazz and metal music do sound nicely pronounced, fairly detailed and are shown with a good grade of extension that doesn’t falls short.

 

Soundstage & Imaging:

The FiiO BTR7 offers a quite natural and realistic soundstage atmosphere along with a pretty successful sense of airiness and space, which creates good conditions for a precise placement of instruments and vocals. The soundstage shows a sufficient level of depth and wideness that won’t disappoint you with respect of a device at this price tag.

 

 

 

Comparison:

 

FiiO BTR7 versus Shanling UP5:

The Shanling UP5 is another portable All-in One BT & USB DAC Amplifier, which is the direct concurrent of the FiO BTR7. Both devices do have a decent built quality and do share a nice looking glass surface in black color and a pretty ergonomic shape. However, the UP5 has a more rounded shape compared to the BTR7 that reflects FiiO’s 6th Gen 3D cut design with Hexagonal elements. The UP5 and the BTR7 are quite similar went it comes to the width and thickness (BTR7 39.6×14.6mm vs UP5 39×14.5mm), while the BTR7 is taller with 83.6mm versus 68mm that the UP5 has.

The BTR7 and the UP5 do share some similar hardware specs such like 2x ESS Sabre ES9219C DAC’s, Xmos XU208 Chip, 3.5mm SE & 4.4mm Balanced Outputs, while the UP5 has also a 2.5mm Balanced output. Both devices do have a BT Chip implementation that supports the BT 5.1 protocol and all modern codes like AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX Low Latency, aptX HD, LDAC. However the BTR7 comes with Qualcomm’s latest QCC5124 BT SoC, while the UP5 is equipped with the older QCC5120. The BTR7 supports Wireless Charging that the UP5 don’t has, while the UP5 offers NFC connection. The biggest difference should be the IPS Display on the BTR7 that looks more modern compared to OLED screen that is integrated to the UP5.

Both the FiiO BTR7 and the Shanling UP5 do come with a powerful amplifier section. The Shanling UP5 offers up to 240mW @32 Ohm over the 4.4mm Balanced output that means plenty of power. However, the BTR7 is equipped with a THX Amplifier section that comes with 2x THX AAA-28 amplifiers that is even more powerful with up to 320mW@32 Ohm over the 4.4mm Balanced output. The FiiO BTR7 and the Shanling UP5 are equipped with built-in batteries with a capability of 880mAh. The UP5 offers up to 11 hours over its Balanced outputs, while the BTR7 last up to 9 hours due to the THX AAA-28 amplifier section that shows a higher power consumption.

When it comes to the sound, I can say that both devices do offer a solid performance that won’t disappoint you. The Sahnling UP5 has a slightly warmer tonality that is typical for Shanling products, while the FiiO BTR7 shows a closer to neutral tonality.

The subbass region of both devices shows a good level of depth and rumble, while the BTR5 has the slightly edge when it comes to the clarity and authority in this area. The midbass region of the BTR7 shows a slightly better sense of layering and sounds a bit more controlled, while both are pretty similar in terms of resolution.

The midrange of the Sahnling UP5 shows a tad warmer tonality compared to the FiiO BTR7, which offers a slightly better grade of transparency and detailed retrieval. The lower midrange of the UP5 sounds a bit fuller than the BTR7, which has the upper hand when it comes to the clarity and authority in this area. The Shanling UP5 is slightly behind the FiiO BTR7 in terms of overall technical performance and resolution, both in the upper midrange and treble region.

Both devices are pretty successful when it comes to the soundstage performance, especially for their price. However, the FiiO BTR offers in general a better sense of airiness and spaces between instruments. The BTR7 has the slightly edge when it comes to the wideness of the stage, while the difference in terms of depth is quite minimal.

 

 

Conclusion:
The FiiO BTR7 is an ultra portable all-in one BT/USB DAC/Amplifier solution that immediately impressed me with its overall sound performance, great built quality and solid looking industrial design that adopts design elements from DAP’s like the M11 Plus. Furthermore, the BTR7 is an excellent device that comes with lots of features such like a powerful THX AAA-28 amplifier section, an innovative metal frame antenna for a stable connection, Wireless Charging, 1.3 inch IPS Color Display and many more, while the leather case that came with the device is a nice addition.

 

 

 

Pos and Cons: 

  • + Solid Overall Sound Performance for an Ultra Potable BT&USB DAC/Amplifier
  • + Looks Great
  • + Excellent Built quality
  • + Comes with a IPS Display
  • + 2x THX AAA-28 Amplifier do offer Plenty of Power
  • + Support of All Actual Codes
  • + Come with Tons of Features
  • + Leather Case is a nice addition

 

  • – A bit larger than the competition
  • – Navigation is a bit tricky
  • – UI needs some impovements

 

Thank you for the Read!

 

 

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