Tag Archives: Bluetooth

FiiO FD5 Dynamic Driver IEM & UTWS3 Universal True Wireless Amplifier

A year ago I reviewed FiiO’s entry into the True Wireless game the UTWS1 which one-upped the competition by being a universal True Wireless amplifier that can pair with almost any IEM that has swappable cables (available in either MMCX or .78mm 2-pin configurations). Now, FiiO has one-upped themselves with the all-new UTWS3. Along with the UTWS3, I was sent their all-new flagship Dynamic Driver IEM the FiiO FD5 which was too good a match for the UTWS3 to pass up a joint review of the two devices.

FiiO FD5 Dynamic Driver IEM & UTWS3 Universal True Wireless Amplifier

The FiiO UTWS3 Universal True Wireless Amplifier:

The FiiO UTWS3 Universal True Wireless Amplifier differs from its predecessor in two very significant ways. First, it comes with a 30-hour charge case with room to accommodate the UTWS3s along with the fitted IEMs putting them on an even keel convenience-wise with all other True Wireless IEMs while maintaining the superiority of infinite choice in sonic profile. More importantly, especially to lovers of less efficient IEMs, it offers almost three times the power at 16Ω and four times the power output at 32Ω with a 70% reduction of noise floor making it a perfect choice for higher impedance IEMs like the FiiO FD5, all done without noticeably compromising playback time or a significant increase in size to accommodate larger batteries. Furthermore, the UTWS3 is compatible with the FiiO Control App, allowing you to adjust channel balance, equalization, voice prompt language, and button function, with a firmware update function (Android only) to offer future software enhancements.

FiiO UTWS3 Universal True Wireless Amplifier

A quick rundown of the features of the UTWS3 is as follows:

  • Qualcomm QCC3020 chip supporting Bluetooth 5.0 and custom-tuned for sound quality and signal to noise ratio with an improved over reference design LRC circuit.
  • TWS + Low Latency technology aptX lossless support.
  • Dual Direct Connections for lower latency and better stability (each unit connects directly to the phone rather than each other).
  • QCC Intelligent Noise Cancellation (ANC using incorporated DSP and dual microphones).
  • aptX/ACC/SBC Bluetooth format support.
  • TPA 6140A2 amplifier chip offering 25mW power at 32Ω with a 25uV noise floor.
  • Custom FPC Bluetooth antenna for improved signal reception.
  • Monocrystalline silver-plated copper audio wires.
  • 8 hour continuous music playback battery life with 180 hour standby time.
  • Individual/Binaural listening modes.
  • 26 levels of independent volume adjustment (separate from phone volume control).
  • Tactile Multi-function Button provides Pairing, Power On/Off, Play/Pause, Next Song, Last Song, Answer Call, Hang Up, Volume Up and Volume Down functions while rejecting unintended touches.
  • IPX4 water-resistant design.
  • Titanium Memory Wire for earhook.
  • Choice of MMCX or 0.78mm 2-pin connectors.
  • High capacity charging case with 30 hours of battery life.
  • Simplified pairing/unpairing function via one-button charging case operation.
FiiO UTWS3 Universal True Wireless Amplifier

The FiiO FD5 Dynamic Driver IEM:

As befits a flagship IEM the FiiO FD5 Dynamic Driver IEM comes in an elegant magnetic clasp box with a plethora of accessories including five different styles of ear-tips (three of which come in three different sizes while the foam and tri-flange come in two), two interchangeable sound tubes (to accommodate different ear canals as well as offer different sonic properties), three interchangeable audio jack connectors (2.5mm TRRS, 3.5mm TRS, and 4.4mm TRRRS), an expanded MMCX cable with 8 strands of monocrystalline silver-plated copper cable, an HB5 imitation leather storage case, a cleaning brush, and a special Final MMCX ASSIST MMCX detachment tool, along with the obligatory manual and audio jack swap cheat sheet.

FiiO FD5 Dynamic Driver IEM

The bullet points for the FD5 are as follows:

  • 12mm flagship dynamic driver with N52 magnet producing 1.5 Teslas of magnetic flux – which improves efficiency and control of the diaphragm ensuring extremely robust bass, stellar dynamics, and excellent high-frequency resolution.
  • Beryllium-coated DLC (diamond-like carbon) diaphragm – minimizing unwanted resonance improving accuracy while reducing distortion.
  • Precision front acoustical prism – precisely controlling sound waves as they enter the sound tube eliminating high frequency standing waves and enhancing overall sound wave diffusion.
  • Rear volcanic field system – enhancing the diffusion of low frequencies and further reducing standing waves.
  • Semi-open acoustic design – offering balanced, beautiful, and unfatiguing sound.
  • Timeless industrial design and stainless steel construction – the 3D embossed stainless steel faceplate actually acts to dampen the body reducing the harmonic distortion of sound inside.
  • Interchangeable sound tube – providing added comfort and tailoring of the sonic profile.
  • High-purity monocrystalline silver-plated copper cable with expanded MMCX design and interchangeable audio jack – 152 high-purity monocrystalline silver-plated copper individually insulated wires are wound into 8 separate braided strands in a Litz Type2 configuration with solid stainless steel FABRILOUS interchangeable connections.
  • Hi-Res Audio certified.
FiiO FD5 Dynamic Driver IEM

Living with the FiiO FD5 Dynamic Driver IEM & UTWS3 Universal True Wireless Amplifier:

My initial intent was to burn in the FiiO FD5 Dynamic Driver IEM and UTWS3 Universal True Wireless Amplifier together using my FiiO M11 DAP as source figuring I would use my FiiO LC-4.4D 4.4mm to MMCX high-purity Monocrystalline Silver Litz IEM cable for wired testing, but then learned that the FD5 featured a new cable with swappable connections making it necessary to do my testing with that cable, so after burning in the FD5s with the UTWS3s for 100 hours, I performed a second burn-in with the stock cable.

FiiO FD5 Dynamic Driver IEM FABRILOUS interchangeable connections

During my early tests with the UTWS3 and FD5, I had settled on the medium-sized “Bass” tips as offering the best comfort and most natural tonal balance, but after the second burn-in, I discovered that the secondary sound tubes were smaller in diameter and were noted to improve bass, so I switched to those feeling that they would better accommodate my rather unusually shaped ear canals and switched back to the “Balanced” ear-tips since the “Bass” tips were too large for the smaller sound tubes. Given this change, I will actually begin my listening observations with the cabled setup and retest with UTWS3 afterward.

FiiO FD5 exchangeable sound tubes

As with most FiiO products in my experience, the fit and finish of the FD5s is top-notch and their stainless steel casings complemented by the silver-plated cables lend them a very luxurious appearance indeed. I should also point out that the Final MMCX ASSIST was a much-welcomed addition as I have experienced issues with swapping out MMCX cables in the past (after a certain amount of time they appear to become permanent installations).

FiiO FD5 Dynamic Driver IEM with Final MMCX ASSIST
Steve Hackett  “Under A Mediterranean Sky”

Since I was starting with wired operation, I decided to start at the top and work my way down, so I fired up the iFi Pro iDSD in tube mode and selected for my first track Steve Hackett’s new release “Under A Mediterranean Sky” (24-bit/44.1 kHz – Qobuz). The combination of acoustic guitar and orchestra made this an ideal demonstration of dynamics, tonal balance, timbre, imaging, and soundstage. After some initial experimentation, I switched from the 4.4mm TRRRS connector to the 3.5mm TRS deciding that since power was not an issue, single-ended output would offer the best sound. The soundstage was expansive with excellent depth of field, placing the guitar about 10 feet away in a large theater or hall with the orchestra a ways behind that. The tonality appeared to be neutral and natural sounding with exciting dynamics offering real impact to the opening percussion and horns of “Mdina (The Walled City)”. The guitar had that crisp tonality of nylon strings with a deep richness. “Sirocco” served up a truly three-dimensional experience with the multitude of Mediterranean percussion instruments scattered around the stage.

The Who “Who’s Next”

Switching to my regular playlist for a higher resolution offering and something a little more rock & roll test I chose “Getting In Tune” from The Who’s “Who’s Next” (DSD). Nicky Hopkin’s piano was rich and full set in a large soundstage and Entwistle’s bass was tight and robust without being boomy. A standout was the backing vocals provided by Townshend and Entwistle, while Moon’s spectacular drumming had snap and sparkle.

Eiji Oue conducting the Minnesota Orchestra – “Stravinsky”

Returning to the M11 and the 4.4mm TRRRS I pulled up “The Firebird Suite” (Eiji Oue conducting the Minnesota Orchestra – “Stravinsky” – DSD) to get a sense of the imaging. While not quite as musical or resolute as with the iDSD there was a real feeling of hall and the solo instruments had solid placement.

Caroline Shaw’s “Narrow Sea”, Written for and Performed by Sō Percussion, Dawn Upshaw, and Gilbert Kalish

It was now time to roll over to the UTWS3s which was made quick and easy using the MMCX ASSIST. Checking the FiiO Control app I made sure that the EQ was off (I had experimented with it earlier). Bringing up Qobuz I opted for Caroline Shaw’s “Narrow Sea”, Written for and Performed by Sō Percussion, Dawn Upshaw, and Gilbert Kalish. The UTWS3s did admirably keeping up with the dynamics and myriad of bell-like sounds of the eclectic piece while beautifully rendering Dawn Upshaw’s soul-wrenching vocal.

“Departure From” Gary Alan Barker

The last test was of course to see how well it works with a phone. For this I used my Moto G Power. Re-pairing the UTWS3s was a breeze, I simply put them back in the charge case, held the button for about 5 seconds, and then looked for them on my phone. For music, I expected little difference from the M11, but to verify I launched the Bandcamp app and listened to “Who Holds the Sun” from my “Departure From” album. I then called up a friend to see how it does on phone calls and I can easily say it is one of the best Bluetooths I have tried. Voices were clear on both ends and the sound was very natural.

Conclusions on the FiiO FD5 Dynamic Driver IEM & UTWS3 Universal True Wireless Amplifier:

The FiiO FD5 Dynamic Driver IEM with the UTWS3 Universal True Wireless Amplifier is a phenomenal combination. Is it on a par with other $400 Bluetooth headphones? I’d say definitely, though it would benefit from the addition of the LDAC codec, something that maybe they can add with a firmware update. With their semi-open design, they are the most comfortable True Wireless I have used especially when it comes to phone calls, their size is compensated by their over the ear design making them feel more secure than standard True Wireless IEMs.

On their own, the FiiO FD5s are spectacular well deserving of the name flagship and proof that single driver dynamic driver IEMs still have a place and once again a real contender in the under $400 market even without the UTWS3. Where the FD5s rise above other FiiO offerings is in musicality. While not as heavy in the bottom end as the others, the phase linearity of a single driver design makes the midrange pure and clear, portraying a spacious if not airy soundstage.

All in all, both the FiiO FD5 and the FiiO UTWS3 are clear winners and well worth an audition.

Manufacturer’s Website:

https://www.fiio.com/fd5

https://www.fiio.com/utws3

Price:

UTWS3: $79.99 USD

FD5: $319.99 USD

Specifications:

UTWS3:

  • Output Power – 38mW(16Ωload)25mW(32Ωload)
  • Noise – <8μV
  • Drive ability – 16~100Ω
  • THD+N – <0.06%
  • SNR – 100dBr “A”
  • Working Time – TWS+: 7hs of use each charge – TWS: 5.5hs of use each charge
  • Overall battery life 30h(4-5 times recharge from the case)
  • Output Impedance – about 0.7Ω
  • Crosstalk – 94dB
  • Balance – ≤0.5dB
  • Dimension – 93.5×71.1×34.6
  • Weight – 125.5g

FD5:

  • Frequency response – 10Hz – 40kHz
  • Drivers – 12mm Beryllium-coated diamond-like carbon (DLC) dynamic driver
  • Impedance  – 32Ω@1kHz
  • Sensitivity – [email protected]
  • Max input power – 100mW
  • Cable connectors – 8 strands of monocrystalline silver-plated copper cable
  • Cable length – 120cm
  • Unit weight – about 11g

The post FiiO FD5 Dynamic Driver IEM & UTWS3 Universal True Wireless Amplifier appeared first on Headphone Guru.

Original Resource is Headphone Guru

Crosley’s Voyager Vintage Turntable doubles as a Bluetooth speaker: $55 (Save 20%) – 9to5Toys

Amazon is offering the Crosley Voyager Vintage Portable Turntable/Bluetooth Speaker for $54.95 shipped. Matched at Walmart. That’s 20% off the going rate and is easily among the best Amazon pricing we’ve tracked. This belt-driven 3-speed turntable is a great piece worth adding to your bedroom, …

Original Resource is Vinyl Records

M5-TWS Custom Review – Pioneer

Pros –

Unrivalled custom fit and isolation for TWS, Outstanding balance throughout and accurate timbre, Best in-class soundstage and resolution, Excellent build and finish

Cons –

Power and charging functions hamper convenience, Lower-treble spike may irk some, Background hiss, Call quality below average, No official IP rating, Costly

Verdict –

The M5-TWS Custom lies at the pinnacle of TWS sound quality, tuning and fit, but expect to pay a hefty premium to obtain it.


Introduction –

ADV. really came out of nowhere in 2015. They began life crowd-funded by Kickstarter but soon made a name for themselves with their very affordable products that focussed on the fundamentals and essentials. However, through collaboration with esteemed industry veteran AAW, the company soon set its eyes on the high-end scene, releasing a sophisticated line of customs and a planar magnetic headphone. They assume advanced manufacturing processes such as 6-axis CNC milling and 3D printing in order to realise these products. The M5-TWS was a departure from their usual designs, sporting the same audiophile focus but in a true-wireless form factor. We walked away very-impressed by its clean Harman-target tuning and immaculate 3D printed housings. The company didn’t stop there, however, releasing the M5-TWS Custom which represents more than just a custom variant of their previous TWS hit. It sports a new “reference” tuned driver and reworked acoustics alongside representing quite possibly the first full-custom TWS design on the market.

The M5-TWS Custom is available for $499.99 USD from ADV. at the time of writing. For more details, customization options and purchase, see ADV.’s website here.

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Hannah from ADV. very much for her quick communication and for providing me with the M5-TWS Custom for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the earphones free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

The Pitch –

Custom 3D-printed design

ADV. use 3D printing to achieve a high-quality acrylic construction and speed up turnaround times on custom products. This also opens the avenue for use of digital ear impressions that greatly aid convenience during the ordering process and permit the user to reuse the same impressions for years to come. Furthermore, the intricacy permitted by 3D printing means fewer cosmetic imperfections, more control over acoustic design and better channel matching for custom products, very important for imaging performance.

Reference-tuned PHPC Driver

The M5-TWS Custom uses a similar 6.1mm pressurized high-purity copper dynamic driver as the universal model. This means a tight, well-damped micro driver with an agile transient response whilst upholding an authoritarian sub-bass due to the enclosure that increases low-frequency pressure. However, the company has retuned the custom model specifically to follow a different curve. Where the uni was tuned to match the in-ear Harman target curve, the custom is reference-tuned that promises to be more neutral and transparent. I will touch more on the specific difference below.

Customization –

You don’t receive the same level of customisability as most custom wired earphones, but a select range of set designs; black burst, green ash and red pearl. Besides this, the company only offers different options in delivering your impressions, able to ship impressions, email 3D STL files or visit ADV’s lab in Santa Cruz. Alternatively, if you’ve ordered custom products from the company in the past, they’ll have your impressions on file.

Turnaround and Support –

I will firstly thank the ADV. team for their support during the global pandemic which has complicated production for many companies. The company promises a 4-6-week turnaround and this is in-line with my experience, my unit taking about 6 weeks to prep from when I first sent my digital impressions. It later came to my attention that the impressions I sent had a flaw necessitating 0.5mm bolstering of the left sound tube and ADV. were very helpful here too. The company was able to modify the earphones to my specification and shipped them out 2 weeks later by DHL Express which sped up the process.

Unboxing –

The M5-TWS Custom comes with markedly different packaging to the universal, more in-line with a CIEM. Sliding off the top cover reveals the earphones within a sleek CNC aluminium case with foam inlet that holds the earphones. Of note, the earphones utilise plugs on the faceplate for charging since the custom design does not permit docking in a universal case. The company includes a tiny type-C cable that charges the earphones alongside a compact Type-A to Type-C adaptor for use with ordinary chargers and older computers. The M5-TWS Custom’s case has no smart features or ability to charge the earphones. A smaller case with tighter inlet would have been a welcome addition, something like CFA’s IEM pouches that are much more pocketable and separate the housings to prevent scratches.  

Design –  

In handsome red pearl, my unit is very visually distinct and represents a high level of construction quality. Being a custom-made earphone don’t expect premium material choice here as conventional 3D printers only work with acrylic at present. I have been gushing about 3D printed products lately but do take note that not all are created equal. The particular company ordering or printing the products has full control over the resolution and finish at the cost of time, and ADV. clearly spend a bit more achieving a refined product here.

In turn, the finish and build are as good as you could hope for, each surface is perfectly smooth and this was especially noticeable to me when lighting the earphones where we observe very clean lines and contours. There are no seams due to the 3D printing, leaving a flawless unibody construction that feels light but solid. The transparent bodies showcase the acoustics and circuitry inside with mic cut outs interestingly positioned at the rear and a small vent at the very top. Take note that the M5-TWS Custom has no IP rating so use these for exercise at your own risk.

Fit & Isolation –

The M5- TWS Custom is about the size of a regular CIEM plus another millimetre of depth for the electronics. This makes it quite a bit larger than the regular M5-TWS but may vary based on your individual ear anatomy. Still, they aren’t especially low profile meaning that they won’t be suitable for wearing underneath a motorbike helmet or sleeping as our readers often ask about. As far as comfort is concerned, however, the size is of no consequence since they conform perfectly to the shape of your ears – given that the provided impressions were taken correctly. And indeed, this was the case for me; the M5-TWS custom disappears in my ears, providing perfect fit, seal and long-term comfort. They lock into the ears very well with slightly more articular fit around the anti-helix as opposed to my wired CIEMs, that greatly aids retention in the absence of cables and ear guides.

During workouts and commute, the earphones required no adjustment and I encountered no other fit stability issues. They were perfectly comfortably during longer listening sessions. Due to the rigid acrylic design, I did not find them ideal for running, however, where the constant motion would cause them to lose seal. A universal earphone with silicone Eartune fidelity/custom tips are a better option for this sort of application if a personalised fit and high levels of isolation are required. Despite visible vents, they isolate similarly to my sealed CIEMs. They also block the most noise of any TWS earphone I’ve tested ANC or not – nothing beats a perfect seal. The ear-filling design provides especially strong attenuation of low-frequencies which works well in tandem with their more balanced sound tuning. This will make these earphones an excellent companion for frequent fliers and travellers.  

Usability –

Pairing and Connectivity

The experience here is similar to most TWS earphones. After power on the earphones, they enter pairing mode. ADV. add a custom Bluetooth ID to match the user’s name here, ensuring that they are never confused with other devices. They quickly reconnect with previously paired devices but go back into pairing mode if that device is unavailable. The faceplates can be held for 5s to force pairing mode, audio cues let the user know when this is occurring. Utilising Qualcomm’s QC3020 chipset, the earphones support BT5.0 including Apt-X and AAC. This also means they can be paired independently which I was able to confirm, handy for extending battery life during mono calls for instance. Once connected, the M5-TWS Custom provided reliable connectivity. I experienced no dropouts between either side nor to the source device. Connection was also stable in crowded areas such as Sydney CBD which is generally most taxing for a wireless product. Range is also on the higher side, stretching through two rooms with double brick walls before becoming intermittent. With a line of sight connection, range was higher.

Charging and Battery Life

The M5-TWS Custom surely provides a markedly different experience here compared to your average TWS earphone. For one, the user must manually power the earphones on and off in the absence of a charging case via a 7 second hold on the touch-sensitive faceplates. In the same vein, charging is done via a Type-C cable, again affecting convenience. The upside is that, due to the compact size, it is very unobtrusive and enables the user to charge the earphones directly from a smartphone with Type-C connector. It seems reasonable given the nature of the product though potentially the company could have included a charging case that interfaces with the flat faceplates that will invariably by similar between all users.

Battery life is rated at 8 hours down from 9 on the universal. Given that the driver is actually slightly more sensitive, it is possible that the earphones have a more powerful amplifier. In real world usage, at around 40% volume, I found the earphones to meet that figure comfortably and reliably. I also feel that the absence of constant trickle charging may be beneficial for battery health long-term – though, of course, the user will have to remember to keep them topped up. From empty, ADV. quote that the M5-TWS Custom will take 2 hours to charge. They also state quick-charge support though they don’t quote any exact figures. In 15 minutes, I was able to charge from critical battery to approximately 40% which represents just over 3 hours of listening time. They also auto-off after 5 minutes to save power.

Touch Controls

The M5-TWS Custom utilises similar touch controls to the universal model. As they have a more stable fit and larger, flatter faceplates to interface with, the experience is somewhat better here. Furthermore, the controls have been slightly altered to now include volume control and smart assistant functionality as seen pictured below.

I personally am not a fan of the volume controls, however, since the single tap is easily mistaken when adjusting the earphones in the ear. Fortunately, they only change one step at a time, so you don’t have to worry about ramping volume up to a deafening level unintentionally. The touch controls aren’t as responsive nor as accurate as the Pixel Buds or Sennheiser MTW2 overall, but I experienced around 90% accuracy during my testing and didn’t find them frustrating during daily use.

Call Quality

Call quality was mostly similar to the regular M5, meaning good volume but some slight muffling here due to the rear-facing microphones. In quiet environments, users reported good vocal intelligibility. However, there is minimal ambient noise cancellation similar to the M5, if at all as recipients noted that ambient noise and wind were quite intrusive during calls. This will not be the best choice for those interested in the highest call quality but will do in a pinch, especially in quiet environments.  

Background Hiss

Whether due to the increased isolation, the more sensitive driver or revised circuity, the M5-TWS Custom has a reasonably pronounced background hiss that is clearly audible in quiet environments. It was more prevalent than the other TWS models I’ve tested so far, though again, isolation is substantially better making it appear more apparent. It was also slightly more prominent than on the universal M5-TWS. If you are sensitive to hiss, this will not be the best solution for you. However, most users shouldn’t find it too bothersome when music is playing.

Next Page: Sound, Comparisons & Verdict

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FiiO BTA30 High Fidelity Bluetooth Transceiver – Bluetooth Everything

Ever wish your TV, stereo system, headphone amp, or computer were Bluetooth? Well, now with the FiiO BTA30 they can be, and with High-Res aptX HD or LDAC to boot. Whether you need a transmitter, receiver, USB, or SPDIF (Optical or Coax) the BTA30 has you covered. And to round things out and add icing to the cake, FiiO’s little universal box also acts as an inexpensive DAC accepting USB, Optical or Coax digital without the need to install special drivers. And since it is FiiO, this is all done at an extremely low price of less than $90.

The FiiO BTA30 High Fidelity Bluetooth Transceiver:

The FiiO BTA30 High Fidelity Bluetooth Transceiver is tiny, measuring about 5” wide 1” tall and 2 ½” deep with two buttons (On/Off and Pair), a switch (BT-RX, BT-TX, and DAC), and a knob (volume) on the front and a pair of RCA analog outputs, an Optical SPDIF output, a Coaxial SPDIF input/output, an Optical SPDIF input, an antenna, and a USB-C port on the back. The case and knob are black metal and reflect FiiO’s usual excellent fit and finish. For accessories it came with a USB-C cable, RCA stereo cable, an extra set of isolation feet (presumably for use if you want to stand the BTA30 on end), a quick start guide, and a warranty card.

FiiO BTA30

The epic list of features is as follows:

  • Initiatively research and develop the three-in-one multifunctional Bluetooth transceiver, functioning as a Bluetooth transmitter, Bluetooth receiver, and digital decoder.
  • The first desktop LDAC Bluetooth transceiver, which also supports the aptX LL connection.
  • Introduce DSP to the desktop Bluetooth transceiver, achieving accurate calculation on digital audios, more widely to be used.
  • Can be controlled by FiiO Control App, more convenient to use and more comfortable to operate.
  • Three-level sound trigger switch, allows for a quick switch between different working modes.
  • Exhaustive list of outputs: two-way optical and coaxial digital output, RCA analog audio output.
  • Pro-level chips equipped: –CSR8675, Bluetooth 5.0; –Professional DSP, supporting 192k and DSD decoding; –AKM DAC AK4490 –OPA1662, audio LPF op-amp circuit;
  • Bluetooth receiving codec: SBC/AAC/aptX/aptX HD/LDAC Bluetooth transmitting codec: SBC/aptX/aptX LL/aptX HD/LDAC DAC support: 192k sampling rate, DSD64 native decoding, 48k USB decoding
  • Smart RGB light indicator: Quickly indicate different Bluetooth formats and audio sampling rates.
  • Volume knob equipped helps to quickly adjust output volumes, esp. when connecting to active speakers.
  • Volume adjustments are supported under Bluetooth transmitting, esp. when connecting to TWS headphones (unless certain TWS headphones do not support volume adjustment.)
  • DSP audio added makes the digital input more adaptable. DSD input is also supported over Bluetooth transmitting.
  • App control- dig out more audio potentials. –5 types of DAC filters; –Left and right channel balance; –Turn on the digital audio upsampled mode (improve digital output to 192k). –Remotely control volumes (valid both under Bluetooth receiving and decoding mode). –Rename your device (customize the name of your BTA30). –Select Bluetooth codecs (choose Bluetooth quality or latency as output priority). –Gain selection under analog output.

Living with the FiiO BTA30 High Fidelity Bluetooth Transceiver:

FiiO BTA30

To burn-in the FiiO BTA30 High Fidelity Bluetooth Transceiver I used my FiiO M11 DAP as both Bluetooth and Coaxial SPDIF source running my Qobuz thousand song burn-in playlist. For Optical SPDIF I used my FiiO X7MKII DAP and my Questyle CMA 800R driving my Dan Clark Audio (MrSpeakers) ETHER2 headphones was used for all analog output tests. My iFi Pro iDSD (again with the ETHER2s) was used for digital output tests, and my compliment of Bluetooth receivers included the dodocool Magnetic Wireless Stereo Sports In-Ear Headphone, the 1MORE Triple Driver BT and the HELM Audio TW5. While I used the USB-C cable that came with the BTA30, I used Cardas Iridium Interconnects to connect to the amplifier.

BT-TX:

Bluetooth transmit is probably going to be the most used function so I started my testing with that. In order to assure access to all codecs, I used the coaxial input and performed a complete reset between pairings (the BTA30 will pair to more than one Bluetooth device simultaneously to run multiple headsets or other receivers at the same time, but aptX HD and LDAC are not supported for multiple receivers).

the kills - little bastards

The BTA30 connected to the dodocools via aptX which is appropriate given that they were only Bluetooth V4.1. The bassy sound of the dodocools seemed appropriate for the punk club sound of The Kills’ new album “Little Bastards” (24-bit/16kHz – Qobuz) as exemplified by their song “Passion is Accurate”. The range of the BTA30 was impressive offering clear sound the full length of my house (well beyond the rated 30m and through multiple walls). While I wouldn’t personally be inclined to use a $30 IEM for regular listening, the sound was enjoyable.

The_kinks_lola_versus_powerman_album

Next up was the 1MOREs connecting via LDAC the higher resolution was immediately audible listening to the live version of “Lola (with The Danish National Chamber Orchestra & The Danish National Vocal Ensemble)” (24-bit/96kHz – Qobuz) from The Kinks’ “Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Pt. 1”.

The HELMs would only connect via SBC or aptX which I verified by connecting them to my phone; neither aptX HD nor LDAC would work despite claims of Bluetooth V5.0 and support for those codecs, so the HELMs offered little more to the tests than the dodocools.

BT-RX:

As noted previously, I used Bluetooth receive to burn in the BTA30 as this was the most convenient, which proved connection integrity to be uninterrupted over several days of play (if there is a signal disconnect the player stops playing). The range was about the same as the transmit though there was the occasional dropout, given that this is probably more due to the transmitter (the M11) it is still better than expected performance.

Rush_Fly_by_Night

The sound quality via LDAC was excellent, especially for such an inexpensive DAC, making the most of the musicality of the AKM DAC chip. Thanks to the FiiO Control App I was able to set the AKM digital filter to my preferred setting (minimal pre and after ring which I find to be the most accurate and musical setting). This was confirmed listening to “Best I Can” (24-bit/96kHz) by Rush from their “Fly by Night” album.

Ladies of the Canyon

The upsampling offered a slight improvement to the soundstage even on the digital out presumably because it preserves more of the LDAC 24-bit/96kHz transmission, which outputs 16-bit/44.1kHz when not in upsampling mode (24-bit/192kHz) which I tested with Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi” (24-bit/192kHz) from her epic “Ladies of the Canyon”. Note: upsampling is not supported on the optical out.

DAC:

Last but not least was the simple straight DAC performance. Since the USB input is optimized for 16-bit/48kHz to eliminate the need for special drivers and to facilitate Bluetooth broadcast, coaxial input is the preferred choice for use as a DAC which accepts up to 24-bit/192kHz and DSD64 via DoP.

Travis_-_The_Man_Who_album_cover

That all being said I hooked up to the USB testing with upsampling both on and off (the FiiO Control App only works in BT-RX mode but the setting changes are saved). Selecting “Why Does It Always Rain on Me?” by Travis (16-bit/44.1kHz – Qobuz – “The Man Who”) once again I found the Upsampled setting to be preferable offering a decent sized sound stage and an overall musical performance.

If I have one complaint about the BTA30 it is the lack of an input switch. The ability to switch between USB, Coax, Optical, and BT-RX without having to disconnect the USB and switch to a dedicated power supply would be nice.

FiiO Control App:

FiiO Control App

An essential accessory for your BTA30 is the FiiO Control app. Even if you don’t plan on using the BTA30 in Bluetooth receive, install this app onto your phone, pad or similar device. Oddly it was not available in the FiiO Apps program on the M11, but it was simple enough to install from the Google Play Store app. Opening up the FiiO Control app a FiiO BTA30 icon will appear and you simply click on that to sync with the BTA30 and it brings up the BTA30 “Status” page. On this page you can change the “Status indicator pattern” from “Red-Green” to Red-Blue” (I have no idea why you would want to do this, but it’s there), turn the “Auto power-on” on or off, and turn the “Indicator lights” off or on (for those who prefer a total blackout during operation). At the bottom of the screen are icons for “Status”, “RX/DAC”, “TX”, and “Guide” (Guide will bring up the operating manual), and at the top right will be a settings icon.

If you click the settings icon you have the options to name the device (handy if you have more than one), clear pairing, restore to default settings, and to power off.

The RX/DAC screen is probably the most important. Here you can disable codecs, disable USB or Coax, set your “Volume Control mode” between “Adjustable” and four different fixed levels (30%, 50%, 70%, and 100%), and most importantly select your digital filter (“Lowpass filter”).

On the TX screen, you can again disable codecs, disable USB or Coax, set your “Volume Control mode” (only works with SPDIF IN) between “Adjustable” and four different fixed levels, and set your “LDAC streaming quality” your choices being “Audio quality first”, “Standard”, “Connection first”, and “Adaptive”.

All in all a very useful tool.

Conclusions on the FiiO BTA30 High Fidelity Bluetooth Transceiver:

The FiiO BTA30 High Fidelity Bluetooth Transceiver is everything it promises to be. As a simple, easily transportable, high-performance inexpensive desktop DAC it is more than worth its price, providing excellent 24-bit/ 192kHz upsampled sound or 24-bit/ 192kHz and DSD64 native sound via Coaxial input. Add in the universal LDAC Bluetooth capabilities and you have the bargain of the century.

The ability to convert any non-Bluetooth digital device to Bluetooth V5.0 with the superior sound quality options of LDAC or aptX HD makes the BTA30 a boon to fans of wireless audio and smart technology. Whether you want to watch television with High Definition sound quality in your own head a 3 AM without disturbing others or stream music from your phone to your old HiFi system, the BTA30 is a must-have and will prove useful for a multitude of applications without putting a heavy lien on your pocketbook. Definite thumbs up and highly recommended product.

Manufacturer’s Website: www.fiio.com/bta30

Price: $89.99 USD

Specifications:

Bluetooth chip: CSR8675

Bluetooth version: 5.0

DSP chip: CT5302

DAC chip: AK4490

Audio op-amp: OPA1662

Bluetooth receive formats support: SBC/AAC/aptX/aptX HD/LDAC

Bluetooth transmit format support: SBC/aptX/aptX LL/aptX HD/LDAC

Bluetooth transmit input support: 48k  (44.1k not supported)

Optical decoding support: 96k/24bit

Coaxial decoding support: 192k/24bit; DSD64 (dop)

USB AUDIO out support: 44.1/48k 16bit

Transmission distance: Approx. 30m (no obstacles, SBC codec)

Status indicator: SBC: Blue; AAC: Teal; aptX HD: Yellow aptX: Purple, aptX LL: Green; LDAC: White

Hands-free calls, microphone:  Not supported

Analog output: RCA (Max 3Vrms)

Digital output: Optical + Coaxial

Digital input: Optical + Coaxial

RCA out THD+N: 0.002% (SPDIF input 48k/24b, 1kHz -3dB)

RCA output SNR: 115dB

Digital out sampling rate: Can be upsampled to 192k/24b

USB interface: Type C

Antenna interface: BNC2.5

App control Supported

Dimensions 120x55x23.5mm Weight 115g

Accessories included Quick Start Guide*1, Warranty Card*1, Type C cable*1, RCA cable*1, Isolation Feet*8

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