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Stuart Charles here, HomeStudioBasics.com helping YOU make sound decisions, so…
In the Box
Hard Plastic Case for on the go
USB-C Charging Cable
- Output Power (Unbalanced): Up to 30mW (32Ω), Up to 3.1mW (300Ω)
- Output Impedance: < 1Ω
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 40kHz (±0.5dB)
- Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR): ≥120dB (A-weighted)
- THD+N: < 0.003% (1kHz)
- Bluetooth Version: Bluetooth 5.0
- Supported Bluetooth Codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX Low Latency, aptX HD, LDAC
- DAC: Dual AK4377A
- USB DAC Functionality: Up to 384kHz/32bit (PCM), Native DSD up to DSD256
- Battery Life: Up to 11 hours
- Charging Time: Approximately 1.5 hours (DC 5V, 500mA)
- Dimensions: 60.9mm x 19.1mm x 12.7mm (excluding back clip)
- Weight: Approximately 23g
Today we’re going to review the FiiO BTR3K, touching on things like build quality, sound, features, versatility, and more.
By the end of this article, you’ll know if it’s worth a purchase, and if it isn’t, I’ll steer you in the direction of something that is.
Let’s dive in.
For such a simplistic-looking device, the BTR3K is certainly very striking.
Part of the appeal lies in its solid aluminum alloy body wrapped in glass. There’s definitely a “smartphone” feel to it, and that is both a good and bad thing.
Good because it looks great and feels nice in the hand, and bad because it still collects fingerprints despite FiiO claiming the contrary.
So keep that in mind if you aren’t particularly fond of your DAC looking like it was part of a murder investigation.
In any event, the device is compact and lightweight, making it convenient for on-the-go use, which adds to its durability and gives it a premium feel.
The smooth finish and rounded edges contribute to its comfortable grip, and the buttons and switches are responsive and have a satisfying tactile feel.
The device features a conveniently placed multifunction button that allows for easy playback control and call management.
The volume adjustment buttons are also intuitively positioned and offer precise adjustments.
The USB-C port is well-protected and is used for both charging and audio connectivity. It provides a secure connection while ensuring longevity.
The clip on the back of the device is sturdy and practical, allowing for easy attachment to clothing or bags during workouts or other activities.
However, one potential concern is the exposed 3.5mm headphone jack, which might be vulnerable to dust or other particles over time.
That said, its well-designed buttons, responsive controls, and practical clip make it a user-friendly device for those seeking a portable and reliable Bluetooth receiver.
The FiiO BTR3K is equipped with Bluetooth 5.0 technology, providing a stable and efficient wireless connection to your audio source devices.
This allows you to stream high-quality audio wirelessly from your smartphone, tablet, or other compatible devices.
High-Resolution Audio Support
The device supports a variety of high-resolution audio formats, including LDAC, aptX, aptX HD, and AAC.
Dual DAC Chips
The BTR3K features two DAC chips (AK4377A) that work in tandem to provide improved digital-to-analog conversion, resulting in better audio reproduction and enhanced sound quality.
- Related: Beginners Guide: What is a USB DAC?
Hi-Res Audio Decoding
It can decode audio files with resolutions up to 32-bit/384kHz, allowing you to experience your music in full detail.
Take note of the status LED on the front underneath the glass as it lights up different colors according to the format:
- Blue: SBC
- Cyan: AAC
- Purple: aptX/aptX LL
- Yellow: aptX HD
- White: LDAC
The USB-C port serves multiple functions.
It is used for charging the device’s battery, and it can also be utilized for data transfer and as a USB DAC connection to a computer.
The multifunction button on the device allows you to control playback, adjust volume, answer calls, and activate voice assistants.
Dual Output Modes
The BTR3K offers both single-ended (3.5mm) and balanced (2.5mm) output modes, allowing you to use a wider range of headphones and IEMs.
This balanced output mode is designed to provide superior audio quality by minimizing crosstalk and interference, particularly when used with headphones or IEMs that support balanced connections.
- Related: Balanced vs. Unbalanced Audio Cables
With a built-in rechargeable battery, the BTR3K provides decent battery life for extended listening sessions; up to 11 hours on a single charge.
The FiiO BTR3K offers a range of features, including high-resolution audio support, dual DAC chips, versatile output modes, balanced and single-ended connections, and both wired and wireless connectivity options.
Its USB DAC functionality further enhances its versatility, making it a compelling option for audiophiles and music enthusiasts looking to elevate their audio experience.
- Playlist: Here!
The BTR3K features a relatively low output impedance, which is an important specification to consider when pairing headphones or earphones with an audio source.
- Related: What is Output Impedance?
The 3K’s output impedance is below 1 ohm, which is a good ballpark figure to shoot for in most DACS.
Low output impedance is generally favorable as it minimizes the potential for impedance mismatch between the audio source and the headphones or earphones.
When output impedance is too high, it can affect the frequency response of certain headphones, particularly those with varying impedance characteristics across different frequencies.
This impedance mismatch can lead to altered tonal balance and uneven frequency response, resulting in a less accurate and potentially distorted sound reproduction.
With the BTR3K’s low output impedance, it is better suited for a wider variety of headphones and earphones
This reduces the likelihood of altering the intended sound signature of these devices; ensuring minimal impact on the Frequency Response of the headphones and providing a more accurate representation of the audio.
The FiiO BTR3K, while offering a low impedance, as well as a range of features and connectivity options, has a relatively low power output when used in unbalanced mode.
This means that the device might struggle to provide sufficient power to drive headphones or earphones that have higher impedance or require more energy to reach optimal listening levels.
For users who enjoy their music at louder volumes or have headphones that demand more power, the limited power output in unbalanced mode might lead to several potential issues:
Insufficient Volume Levels
This can result in a less satisfying listening experience, especially in noisy environments or with music that has dynamic range variations.
Reduced Dynamic Range
Due to the limited power output, headphones or earphones may not perform at their best, affecting the dynamic range and overall impact of the audio.
This can lead to flattened dynamics and less engaging music playback.
Inadequate Performance with Demanding Headphones
Suppose you have headphones that are known to be power-hungry or aren’t very efficient.
In that case, the BTR3K’s unbalanced output might struggle to provide the necessary power for these headphones to reach their optimal sound quality.
It’s important to reiterate that the FiiO BTR3K does offer a balanced output option, which generally provides higher power output and improved performance compared to the unbalanced output.
Users who have headphones that support balanced connections might find better results by utilizing the balanced output option for improved power and audio quality.
That said, if you’re only going to be using low-impedance, easy-to-drive headphones like the KPH30i (pictured above) you should be fine.
Most people are going to love the additional headroom of a more powerful product though.
The FiiO BTR3K’s low power output in unbalanced mode could be a limitation for users who have headphones with high impedance, low sensitivity, or those who prefer listening at louder volumes.
- Recommended: What is Headphone Impedance? [Definitive Guide]
However, the availability of a balanced output option can offer a potential solution for those seeking higher power output and improved audio performance with compatible headphones.
When considering the FiiO BTR3K’s limitations in unbalanced power output, an alternative worth exploring is the FiiO BTR5, which offers a notable improvement in this aspect.
The FiiO BTR5 presents a solution for users who seek higher power output and enhanced performance, making it a compelling choice for a broader range of headphones and listening preferences.
It also happens to be my top portable option, and highly recommended.
I recommended the 3K for a while until the BTR5 came along. I think it’s a much better overall value.
One aspect to consider when purchasing the FiiO BTR3K is the potential desire for more power and enhanced performance in the future.
While the BTR3K offers respectable features and quality, its power output might leave you yearning for a higher level of audio performance, especially if you have power-hungry headphones or just crave that headroom as I do.
Even if you don’t have demanding headphones now, you probably will later since most people end up going down the rabbit hole anyway.
Recognizing that upgrading to the FiiO BTR5 provides a significant power boost, it’s worth pondering whether it’s more cost-effective to invest in the BTR5 upfront, rather than opting for the BTR3K and eventually seeking an upgrade.
By choosing the BTR5 initially, you can save money in the long run and enjoy a more robust and satisfying audio experience from the start, without feeling the need to upgrade in the near future.
Interested in my top portable option?
Well, that’s about it for today my friend! I hope you’ve enjoyed this FiiO BTR3K review and came away with some valuable insight.
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Could you see yourself with a BTR5? Why or why not? I would love to hear your thoughts. Until next time…
All the best and God bless,