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Fiio BTR5 Review – Golden Child

The Pitch –

At present, the BTR5 is Fiio’s flaghips Bluetooth receiver with LDAC/HWA support and balanced output. It retails for $119.99 USD at the time of writing.

Pros –

Sleek design with premium unibody build, Balanced output, Wide codec support, Handy OLED display, Balanced and detailed sound with good driving power

Cons –

Soundstage still relatively intimate, No leather case included

Verdict –

The BTR5 is an exemplary device that gets impressively close to similarly priced wired sources whilst maintaining a compact and convenient wireless form factor.


Introduction –

Fiio are a world-renowned audio company and for many, one of the gateways into the audio hobby. They rose to prominence for their affordable yet versatile source devices and are now branching into new and exciting forms. The BTR5 is the current flagship of their Bluetooth receiver range, one that has never been so pertinent as in the current year where the smartphone headphone jack is but a distant memory. The BTR5 promises to append this, merging the convenience of wireless audio with the flexibility and quality of a proper dedicated source. As compared to its predecessor, it represents a substantial boost in both spec and versatility including the addition of balanced output and a handy OLED screen. All of this comes at a reasonable $129.99 USD asking price.

You can read all about the BTR5 on Fiio’s website here and treat yourself to a set here (affiliate).

Disclaimer –

I would like to thank Sunny from Fiio very much for her quick communication and for providing me with the BTR5 for the purpose of review. All words are my own and there is no monetary incentive for a positive review. Despite receiving the receiver free of cost, I will attempt to be as objective as possible in my evaluation.

Contents –

Specifications –

  • Dimensions/Weight: 72 x 32 x 11.1mm/43.7g
  • Bluetooth: 5.0 with AAC, SBC, LDAC, aptX, aptX LL, aptX HD, LDAC
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz – 40 kHz (LDAC connection)
  • Output Impedance: < 1 ohms, < 2 ohms (balanced)
  • SNR: >118 dB, > 122 dB (balanced)
  • Power Output: About 90mW (32 ohm load), About 240 mW balanced (32 ohm load)
  • DAC: ES9218P x 2
  • USB: XMOS XUF208
  • BT Chip: CSR8675
  • Runtime: About 9hrs

Unboxing –

As is usual from Fiio, the BTR5 comes in clean and professional looking packaging and includes a collection of useful accessories. Removing the cover reveals the BTR5 within a foam inlet. There’s a transparent acrylic case included on top with shirt clip as the BTR5 assumes a more streamlined clip-free design as opposed to prior BTR models. Fiio also provide a type-C charging cable in addition to manual and warranty card. Overall, a simple yet effective unboxing that is suitable for a product of this calibre. A leather case would be appreciated but can be purchased separately from both Fiio and DD HiFi for a small sum.

Design –

The BTR3 introduced the tempered glass sandwich design that has become very popular with these kinds of products since, the BTR5 being no exception. However, it now forgoes the spring-loaded clip for a more streamlined form factor. The BTR5 assumes a larger footprint but retains a modern slimness and elegant tall profile, an impression that is enhanced by the rounded side frame. The glass also curves inwards and each edge is gently rounded for a seamless feel in the hand. The BTR5 also has a surprising sense of density, feeling far more robust than the previous BTR devices despite appearing similar in materials. From first look and feel, it’s clear this is a quality product with a premium construction.

Besides this, the BTR5 offers the connectivity you would expect, a Type-C charging port on the bottom and two headphone jacks on the top, one 3.5mm single-ended and one 2.5mm balanced. The right side houses the controls, with a volume rocker, play/pause and power. A microphone is positioned just above which means you won’t have to disconnect the device during phone calls. Finally, a hidden OLED display makes its debut on the front face beneath the tempered glass faceplate. It makes the device far easier to navigate, having ample resolution to display text and symbols; the BTR5 feels far more modern than the BT receivers that came before. 

Usability –

Connectivity

I am a huge fan of the OLED display which means there are no codes to decipher and all statuses are displayed clearly and simply to the user. Upon powering on the device, it will be available to pair and will simultaneously attempt to re-connect to a previously paired device. I found it auto-connected quickly each time and without issue there. The display also notifies the user that the device is reconnecting. It connected to my Xperia 5 II and Pixel 4 using LDAC which is my current favourite codec due to its high quality and low latency. It also supports AAC and all aptX codecs, LL in particular is super handy for further minimising latency on supported sources and the wide codec support means you will always have the highest quality connection possible.

Once paired, I experienced a stable connection and noticeably improved signal strength over both the BTR1 and BTR3. It had better range than both and also no intermittency. This is something I experienced on the former receivers especially when running where my arm would occasionally cover the device causing a brief dropout. I did not experience this issue with the BTR5. Latency was also especially low when connected over LDAC, I noticed minimal lip sync latency and was able to enjoy some mobile gaming with no issues.

Navigation

After pairing the device, the screen displays the current volume level, BT codec currently used and the remaining battery to the nearest 20%. The user is able to navigate a basic GUI using a few button combinations. Holding the power button for around 2 seconds enters the settings menu which enables toggling between low and high gain, various filters, screen brightness, USB mode (charge/USB-DAC), USB standard and software info. There are some basic eQ presets and a car mode that I didn’t find especially appealing though some user will surely benefit from the added flexibility here. I do appreciate the screen that provides far more versatility and feedback than audio cues or regular button-based controls, and found the control scheme as well to be intuitive and easy to navigate.

Charging & Battery Life

The BTR5 is rated at 9hrs of runtime though, of course, this varies greatly by codec and volume. I generally preferred to listen on high-gain the majority of the time as it appeared to deliver a slightly better sound to my ears. I am also a lower volume listener. Using these settings, I found the BTR5 to offer impressive run times. I was easily able to beat 8hrs of use with mostly IEMs despite using high-gain and the highest quality codec. With headphones, run times will be shorter though it doesn’t make sense to me to test a portable source with full-size headphones. It also quickly recharges over USB-C, taking about 1 hr to fully charge.

Mic Quality

The BTR5 actually has a pretty extensive dual mic setup with Qualcomm’s cVc 8.0 noise cancellation tech in tow. Though surely not the intention of this device, the addition is handy for impromptu phone calls and suffices in a pinch. Recipients noted that call quality was above average, there was effective ambient noise cancellation, however, at the cost of notable muffle. Placing the device close to the mouth yielded a clearer voice albeit this won’t replace a dedicated headset. Still, the BTR5 offers subjectively good call quality in most environments, further adding to its versatility.

Next Page: Sound Breakdown

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