Fiio BTR1-DAC Bluetooth Headphone Amp

Since the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus were introduced by Apple, reviewing headphones have became a challenging task, namely, headphone jack created by apple.

It is true that a lot of Bluetooth headphones on the market are of great quality, many companies are making quality portable headphones with wireless functionality – it is not yet time for us to pay attention to the future of the wireless.

A couple of months ago, we were not enthusiastic about the initial product of Fiio, namely, i1 to deal with the problem of headphone jack. It is a strongly-constructed lighting-to-headphone adapter that fell short of expectation considering its premium over $9 version of apple.

Today, we will be taking a look at the Fiio’s newest product, namely, BTR1 for consumers of the headphone jack apocalypse. We love Fiio BTR1 – a Bluetooth adapter for low-resistance headphone. It has a simple design. 

It is quite obvious that BTR1 is a product of Fiio. It is available in a lightweight and compact design. It has a similar size with a USB flash drive and weighs above 20 grams.

With its compact size, placing it on top of an over-ear headphone to serve as a do-it-yourself Bluetooth conversion should not be a surprise to any person.

Black anodized aluminum is used to create a greater percentage of its body. A plastic material available in black color is used to create the bottom, probably because of aluminum’s lack of radio transparency. Thus, a plastic is used to ensure the Bluetooth antennas function.

It comes with only two button. At the front side just atop the microphone cutout is one button which serves multiple purposes. The other button positioned by the side is used to increase or lower the volume. It is also used to control the track. We normally expect this type of product to have affordable case. But the parts of this device are of great quality. They have an overall impressive durability and their assembling is top notch. We did not find any imperfection.

Fiio BTR1

The packaging is minimal and tiny. But regardless of the compactness of the box, useful accessories are also added to it. The packaging includes a reasonably lengthy lanyard that can go round the neck and a small micro USB charging cable. There is a large clip at the rear side of Fiio BTR1 which we utilized in hooking up our unit to our wears or backpack as we carried out our normal day to day activities. The clip which is equipped with spring is made from aluminum and its assembling requires screws. It gives a feeling of high durability.

Fiio BTR1 has a very familiar and simple controls.

The device is turned on or off with a long press on the button at the front side. It is also used for other purposes such as call functions when it is shortly pressed, pairing mode and short press to play or pause the music.

The buttons at the side when short pressed controls the volume, but to control the track, it has to be pressed for long.

Pairing with iPhone occurs smoothly and easily. When it is paired, a link is established between iOS and its volume controls.

All functions perform just like those of other Bluetooth that we have utilized iOS notification and status bar displays the battery life. The device we tested for this review was used on medium volume and it lasted for 8 hours.

Fiio BTR1 bluetooth DAC

We are pleased with the microphone as well as the call functions of the Fiio BTR1 for their clarity on the two ends. Another reason why we were happy with the product was because with it, we could include call functionality to the quality wired IEMs which didn’t come with inline mics utilized for the testing.

Probably, the strongest selling point of this device is that you can operate it while recharging the battery. This capability entails that it can be used for during the day. This is particularly beneficial to people that are planning to utilize the same wired headphone while on the go or in their offices.

Some people were apprehensive of its codec support when it was unveiled to the public.

Fiio did not disappoint these people: the BTR1 is compatible with aptX Low Latency, aptX, AAC and iOS users.

However, it would be better to have the support of aptX-HD when utilizing the device with Android, macOS or a personal computer. Wired headphones will not be out-performed by even the best Bluetooth functionality. AAC will work well for majority of the consumers utilizing a mobile device for streaming.

The 0.2ohm output impedance of BTR1 is another feature of this product that is also highly valued by users and this makes it a good fit for IEMs. This is good as its power is limited to only 25mW into 32 ohms by the size of the BTR1. The aluminum body of this device does not appear to have any impact on the Bluetooth range. We could get a signal from a range of 30 feet line-of-sight and even with midtown NYC, the connection was still strong although a lot of Bluetooth devices we have tried could not achieve this.

Fiio BTR1 headphone amp

While utilizing the BTR1, we found that the volume control performed in a particular manner. With iOS, it has 16 volume steps; we discovered that it was adding a two steps increase in the volume range ascending from 8th to 10th step and this is a bit surprising.

However, we came to know that this pattern of two-step increment occurs in all Bluetooth enabled audio devices including those verified by MFi. It seems that the reason for this is because Bluetooth protocol has only 15 volume steps and therefore, there should be a 2-step jump when it is used with iOS.

We tried other Bluetooth headphones in order to ascertain the veracity of this explanation. Those we tried also made a two-step jump at some points in volume range other than the central point as it is the case with BTR1.

To be fair to Fiio, this is probably not within their power. Thus, we will not see this as an issue even if you prefer to experience the volume jump in BTR1 at a different spot in the volume range of iOS. If we get more insight on this, we will modify the review to reflect this.

As it is the case with every other wireless transport device or amplifier, our interest is not more on how BTR1 sounds but on how it does not sound.

In the end, we want the product to have the best of transparency.

BTR1 did not yield any noticeable noise even when it is tried on sensitive IEMs as well as with a silent track playing.

Apart from the Bluetooth’s imperfection, the device delivers impressive sounds and doesn’t seem to have any significant impact on the sound. We have no problem attributing the slight bass boost we heard when carrying out A/B tests to volume matching error. The BTR1 is linked to the volume control of iOS. This is where we see the sound effect function of BTR1 which is another trick up its sleeve.

When you press the front button of BTR1 twice, it switches to the DSP mode that modifies the audio using what we may refer to as a 3D effect which affects the bass and vocals in the track in a captivating manner. Though we value the added feature, we have preference for the normal audio.

Apart from Fiio, there are other companies that have released Bluetooth headphone adapters on the market. We tried these devices and noticed varying results with some performing higher than others.

The BTR1 has solid construction and quality and can be compared with any other Bluetooth headphone adapter despite its volume jump quirk which results from battery capacity and the current imperfections of the Bluetooth protocol. BTR1 boosts of low output impedance, simple controls, good battery life, broad codec support and high durability, and based on these, we think the price is good. If you are using IEM and you still not sure about the wireless headphone, ensure you take a look at the BTR1.