Home Amps/DACS FiiO BTR15 Review: Uncovering Features, Performance, and Value

FiiO BTR15 Review: Uncovering Features, Performance, and Value

by Stuart Charles Black
FiiO BTR15 Review

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Greetings mate and Welcome aboard!

Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions, so…

The FiiO BTR15 is a portable Bluetooth Headphone Amplifier + DAC that can also be used wired with a phone or PC via its USB Type-C port. It has plenty of power for 99% of headphones, sports a neutral output impedance, has both balanced (4.4mm) and unbalanced (3.5mm) options, and contains a clear, easy-to-read interface.FiiO BTR15 Review

FiiO BTR15 Review

FiiO BTR15 Review

FiiO BTR15 ReviewButtons/switches on the side include volume + and -, a power button, as well as a mode switch (Bluetooth, Phone, PC).

FiiO BTR15 ReviewInternally, the BTR15 contains an independent power supply system for its ES9219MQ DAC Chip and outputs a total of 340mW of power at 32Ω.

Power Output:

  • Output Power 1: L+R≥125mW+125mW (32Ω single-ended/THD+N < 1%)
  • Output Power 2: L+R≥15mW+15mW (300Ω single-ended/THD+N < 1%)
  • Output Power 3: L+R≥340mW+340mW (32Ω balanced/THD+N < 1%)
  • Output Power 4: L+R≥50mW+50mW (300Ω balanced/THD+N < 1%)

Total Harmonic Distortion numbers also see an improvement over the BTR5, coming in at <0.0008% vs. <0.002% for the BTR5. You’re not going to be able to discern these tiny fractions of a percentage, but the difference should be noted.

The convenience of the BTR15 is excellent, but it is lighter and doesn’t feel as durable as the BTR5, despite being thicker. 

FiiO says the glass encompassing the unit is now “Dual Curved Glass” which has been hot-bent and embedded on both the front and rear of the unit.

From FiiO:

Not only does this make the device easier to hold, but it also gives the BTR15 a more attractive and 3D appearance. Together with the aluminum alloy middle frame, they make the BTR15 a comfortable device to handle – you won’t be able to put it down once you pick it up.FiiO

Marketing speak aside, it’s not any easier to hold than the BTR5, so take that for what it’s worth.

Comfortably fitting in the palm of your hand, the BTR15 is outfitted with the Qualcomm QCC5125 Bluetooth Chip + XMOS 16-core XU316.

It supports LDAC/aptX, aptX Adaptive, aptX HD, AAC, and SBC, with sample rates up to 96kHz.

PC and phone modes support asynchronous decoding up to 384kHz/32-bit PCM and DSD256.

It also happens to be a full decoder, so if you use Tidal it’s a viable option.

Battery Protection

One nifty addition I like is that FiiO implemented battery degradation prevention by implementing a measure to stop it from charging when it’s fully charged.

This is a real issue with tech like phones, etc. where over time the battery holds less and less of a charge because it was left plugged into an outlet for too long at 100%.

What’s Stayed The Same

  • I’m not sure if the BTR5 was Asynchronous, but the BTR15 is, and all 3 (3K, 5, 15) support 32-bit/384kHz files + DSD256.
  • Both the BTR5 and BTR15 contain the ES9219 chip, but the implementation is a bit different. More on that in a second.
  • Both have an Output Impedance of less than 1.
  • Both have a 550mAh battery.
  • Both utilize aluminum alloy bodies.
  • Both have mode features like Gain, Filter, EQ, Car Mode, etc. Just search “FiiO Control” in your App Store.
  • Both have a USB-C slot for connection to Phones and PCs.
  • Both can take calls.

FiiO BTR15 Review

Chip Implementation

The ES9219MQ and ES9219C chips, both from ESS Technology, serve as digital-to-analog converters (DACs).

The ES9219MQ (BTR15) targets mobile applications with its compact size and low power usage, fitting well into smartphones and portable audio devices.

On the other hand, the ES9219C (BTR5) is optimized for high-end audio systems, boasting superior performance metrics like signal-to-noise ratio and dynamic range, but the difference, specifically with regard to SNR, is rather small (2dB).

While both chips deliver a high-quality conversion, the ES9219C focuses on premium performance, while the ES9219MQ prioritizes efficiency and mobility.

Again, don’t base your decision on those factors as they’re not going to make an audible difference in quality.

Sound

FiiO BTR15 Review

Given its low output impedance, the BTR15 provides a clean, neutral backdrop for your music.

I tested it against the FiiO K11, Universal Audio Volt 2, JDS ATOM 2, FiiO K7, and iFi Zen to determine if there were any significant differences.

There aren’t any. If you’d like to read my philosophy on this, click here.

Before we give a final verdict, let’s recap some things I liked and disliked about the BTR15.

What I Liked:

  • Power output got a boost.
  • The inclusion of the 4.4mm jack is welcome.
  • ESS chip.
  • Easy-to-read interface.
  • Battery anti-degradation measure discussed earlier.

What I didn’t like:

  • The unit feels cheaper than the BTR5.
  • Text and fonts, while easy to read, are ugly and stone-age looking in my opinion.
  • I don’t like the square box for the interface. The BTR5’s disappeared into a uniform look when powered off or idle.
  • The text next to the output jacks is upside down.

FiiO BTR15 Review

FiiO BTR15 Review

Final Verdict

As much as I complained about the aesthetic/interface of the updated BTR15, the power output got a boost and I like the inclusion of the 4.4mm jack since that’s primarily how I listen balanced.

So there’s no real reason to recommend the BTR5 unless you’re one of those weirdos who still listens balanced via 2.5mm.

Hey, I’m not judging you. I still have a 2.5 cable for my HD600 just in case; so there’s that.

Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with either the BTR5 or BTR15, but again, I’m not recommending the 3K anymore.

The BTR5 happens to be my #1 portable option, and even though the 15 edges it slightly in some ways, I still think the 5 is a fine purchase and I probably won’t go editing the dozens of articles and change anything – at least for now.

The difference in price between the 5 and 15 is something like $30 (Subject To Change), so just go with the one that fits your situation!

If you listen balanced via 4.4mm, go with the BTR15. If you listen balanced via 2.5mm, go with the BTR5.

At A Glance

  • Bluetooth Chip: QCC5125 (CPU+DSP dual-core architecture)
  • Bluetooth Version: 5.1
  • USB Chip: XMOS XU316
  • DAC: ES9219MQ*2
  • Bluetooth Codecs: AAC/SBC/aptX/aptX LL/aptX Adaptive/aptX HD/LDAC
  • USB DAC: Asynchronous 384kHz/32bit, DSD256
  • USB DAC driver-free mode: Supported
  • Display: 0.96-inch 96×96 resolution OLED
  • Headphone outs: Single-ended 3.5mm + Balanced 4.4mm
  • Dimensions: About 32.0mmx72.2mmx12.5mm
  • Weight: About 37.3g
  • Charging Time: <2h
  • Battery: 550mAh high-temperature resistant lithium-ion
  • Battery Life: About 8 Hours
  • Output Power 1: L+R≥125mW+125mW (32Ω single-ended/THD+N < 1%)
  • Output Power 2: L+R≥15mW+15mW (300Ω single-ended/THD+N < 1%)
  • Output Power 3: L+R≥340mW+340mW (32Ω balanced/THD+N < 1%)
  • Output Power 4: L+R≥50mW+50mW (300Ω balanced/THD+N < 1%)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz~50kHz (-0.8dB)
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: ≥122dB (A-weighted)
  • Noise floor: PO < 2μV (A-weighted); BAL <2.7μV (A-weighted)
  • Output Impedance: PO < 1Ω (32Ω load), BAL < 1.5Ω (32Ω load)
  • THD+N: <0.0008% (1kHz/32kΩ)

In The Box

1x BTR15

1x Type-C to Type-C Data Cable

1x USB-A To USB-C Adapter

1x Removable Back Clip

Quick Start Guide

Warranty Card

FiiO BTR15 Review

Photo Gallery

Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this FiiO BTR15 review and came away with some valuable insight.

If you love what I do here and want to support the blog and channel in a more personal way, check me out on Patreon and discover all the value I have to offer you.

Questions? Comments? Requests? Did I miss the mark on something? Please let me know down below or Contact me!!

Could you see yourself with a BTR15? Why or why not? I would love to hear your thoughts. Until next time…

All the best and God bless,

 

 

-Stu

[Xtr@Ba$eHitZ]

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