There are two sorts of folks on this planet: Those who need a headphone jack, and people who have moved on.
Fiio’s BTR3 is a gadget made for the previous. It’s a thumb-sized Bluetooth receiver that permits you to join your previous wired headphones to your telephone with no dongle, however it additionally sounds higher than most telephones or laptops with no headphone jack too. It prices $70, is constructed by respected model identified for its moveable amplifiers, and comes class-leading codec help.
And by class-leading, I imply each vital Bluetooth codec: SBC, AAC, AptX, AptX HD, AptX Low Latency, LDAC, and even Huawei’s new LHDC are all on board – AptX LL and LHDC are explicit uncommon. I’m not about to begin an argument on which codec is the very best, however that’s the fantastic thing about the BTR3 – you possibly can select no matter you want. Everyone however the “never wireless” crowd needs to be happy, however even these people can use the BTR3 as a wired dongle by way of the included USB-C cable.
I personally caught to LDAC for most of this evaluation, however tried all the opposite codecs too. The BTR3 truly lights up a distinct coloration for every codec, a small however welcome contact in case you’re undecided what codec your system is outputting. The BTR3 makes use of Qualcomm’s newest Bluetooth chip and offered as steady a connection as I’ve gotten from any Bluetooth system; I didn’t see any dropouts in a few weeks of testing.
It additionally sounds actually good. Even utilizing Bluetooth, I believed the BTR3 offered a greater output than the three.5mm jack on Samsung’s Note 9 and the OnePlus 6, or the dongles included with the Google Pixel 2 or Huawei’s P20 Pro. It’s rated for headphones up to 100 Ohms, and certainly I had no bother driving something beneath that quantity. The solely smartphone I attempted that outperformed the BTR3 was LG’s G7, however LG is virtually in a league of its personal for audio. Oh, and the BTR3 comes with a microphone so you possibly can take calls with out pulling out your telephone, assuming the unit is clipped in your shirt or is in any other case close to your mouth.
So that’s it proper? It sounds good, seems good, and gained’t break the financial institution. There’s only one wrinkle: Radsone’s EarStudio ES100, which I reviewed just a few months in the past.
Do some analysis on Bluetooth receivers, and the ES100 is the system most certainly to present up in its place. It prices extra, at $99, however in flip gives extra energy and customization thanks to an impressively thorough accompanying app. Radsone’s has added a ton of options by way of firmware updates since. It ‘only’ had AptX HD at launch, however now helps LDAC too.
Soundwise, the output from the three.5mm jack is sort of related. The BTR3 makes use of a barely newer DAC (digital-to-analog converter), and sounds a hair much less vivid than the ES100, which emphasizes the treble a bit extra. The ES100 can be a bit of bit louder out of its three.5mm jack. Mostly, the distinction is negligible, however I feel I favor Fiio’s presentation ever so barely.
However, the ES100 has some vital benefits. First, there’s that app. It gives a sturdy customized equalizer that’s saved onto the system itself, a crossfeed perform for a extra open sound, an ambient mic mode to hear your environment whereas taking part in music, and a bunch of different nerdy tweaks.
But maybe extra importantly, the system has a second headphone jack: A balanced, 2.5mm port. Balanced doesn’t essentially sound higher than a regular port (right here’s a good read on the subject) however many amplifiers are wired to present extra energy by means of the balanced port. The ES100 can’t fairly drive the Sennheiser HD820 to their potential, however it handles them them higher than a wi-fi system its measurement has any proper to.
Choosing between the BTR3 and ES100 then turns into a matter of the way you’d like to compromise:
- The ES100 has a robust companion app with a plethora of options and it incessantly adds extra.
- The ES100 has a balanced output by means of which it could possibly deal with headphones up to 600 Ohms(although I wouldn’t transcend 300). The BTR3 is simply rated up to 100 Ohms (however that covers just about all earbuds and most greater headphones).
- The ES100’s equalizer means you possibly can tune sound to your liking and it carries over to each app and system you utilize.
- The Es100 is rated at 14 hours of battery, in contrast to the BTR3’s 11.
- However, the BTR3 makes use of the way more ubiquitous USB-C port. If you have got a latest Android telephone or different system that makes use of USB-C, you don’t have to carry round an additional charging cable. Micro USB wants to die.
- The BTR3 is a bit smaller, and its metal-and-glass construct feels a lot sturdier than the plasticky ES100.
- The BTR3’s AptX Low Latency is especially helpful for gaming, music manufacturing, watching video, and different duties delicate to audio delay.
- The BTR3’s button format is extra smart and simpler to use on the go.
- The BTR3’s microphone appeared to sound a bit of higher throughout calls.
- The BTR3 consists of NFC for fast and straightforward Bluetooth pairing.
While I’d suggest the ES100 for audiophiles keen to put up with small inconveniences for extra customization and energy – it’s the one I’ll personally proceed to use – I feel the BTR3 makes extra sense for most folks. It’s cheaper, higher constructed, and sounds nice with most headphones. Even in case your telephone nonetheless has a headphone jack, the BTR3 is price a glance as a result of it most likely sounds higher anyway.
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Published September 26, 2018 — 02:09 UTC