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Portable High-Fidelity Bluetooth DACs/Amplifiers : Shanling UP2 VS Fiio BTR3

Portable High-Fidelity Bluetooth DACs/Amplifiers : Shanling UP2 VS Fiio BTR3

Music is the soundtrack to your life. However, your “on-the-go” listening experience has always been a bit of a disappointment. Your headphones, which sound great with your home system, sound thin and weak when listening from your smartphone, tablet or personal computer. The best budget ship is a tiny, portable affordable  DAC/AMP that can add serious punch, panache, and clarity to your listening experience. But as a relatively new product category, however, portable DAC/Amplifiers need some comparison before you can buy them. What the functions of DAC/AMPs, what factors affect their performance, and what to look for when buying them – these are all important considerations, especially for budget buyers who want it under  $100.  
So in this article, I’ll do exactly that. I will list the two best popular budget portable DAC/AMPs.
  • Share all functions and technologies what latest portable DAC/AMPs  have
  • Share the main differences between Shanling UP2 & Fiio BTR3

1. Common in Shanling UP2 Vs. Fiio BTR3

1.1 Ultimate connectivity 

Both of them are World's latest Bluetooth wireless DAC/amplifiers, support all current wireless audio codecs – such as AAC, SBC, aptX, aptX Low Latency, aptX HD, LDAC, LHDC and HWA including Hi-Res audio. It is possible to connect to any device, with the highest possible quality. This robust format support will ensure great sound quality to give your headphones new life, and to allow them to once more to resonate with you emotionally.

1.2 Codecs under control 

The LED indicator always shows currently used codec, making it easy to confirm if the highest possible quality is being achieved.

1.3 Bluetooth Chip Qualcomm CSR8675  

The BT chipsets of both Shanling and Fiio have been upgraded to a higher standard CSR8675. It is a premium low-power solution designed for enhanced audio applications with support for 24-bit transmission and processing, thanks to its 120MHz DSP. This chip offers stable connection at longer distances, minimized latency and high resistance to any interferences. I can’t think of any sub-$100 dongles offering this much right now, perhaps the Colorfly BT-C1 but it ‘taps out’ at aptX only. 

1.4 Supports USB DAC functionality 

More Than An Amplifier Connect the Shanling UP2 or Fiio BTR3 to your computer to use it as USB DAC/AMP, acting as an external sound card. Easy connection with any USB-C cable and without need for additional drivers, just plug and play. Shanling portable players are well known for their minimalistic style, combining an aluminum frame with 2. 5D glass panels into the sleek rounded body. They are always visually striking.  Shanling and Fiio continue this design. the smooth texture gives the compact them an elegant look that would not be out of place in a specialty artisan's shop. 

1.5 SNR and Output impedance

The SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio )numbers are similar between 116dB of Fiio BTR3   and 120dB of Shanling UP2. They have marginally difference about the output impedance from 0.25Ω of Shanling UP2  and  0.3Ω of Fiio BTR3. These should not affect what is otherwise a tailor-made output rating for most IEMs.

1.6  Similar DAC/AMP 

High-performance independent  AK4376A DAC in the BTR3, with its extremely low -107 dB distortion and extremely high 124 dB Signal-to-Noise ratio, means that you will be able to catch every last nuance and detail in your music. DAC ES9218  in  UP2 inherits acclaimed audio quality of the popular Shanling MO portable player. It offers high resolution, clear and powerful output with low output impedance while being very power efficient.

1.7 Noise cancellation

Both of them are with new 8.0 generation of cVc noise cancellation technology, your voice during calls will be cleaner and easier to be understood, even in the noisiest environments.

1.8 Similar volume

Shanling UP2: 26g, 55*27*12mmFiio BTR3: 26g, 58*25*10.4mmSame weight, but  Fiio BTR3 is a little bigger than Shanling UP2 with an unremovable chip.

2. Difference between  Shanling UP2 & Fiio BTR3 

2.1 Shanling UP2 output much more Power to drive earphones  

Shanling UP2 Output Power:67mW(32Ω)
Fiio BTR3  Output Power:25mW(32Ω)
Shanling UP2 produce more power under a 32Ω load  67mW and with distortion of 0.005%(HWA) which is much dropped from others 0.05%.   

2.2 Shanling UP2 is the latest Bluetooth 5 DAC/AMP

Fiio BTR3 with Bluetooth 4.2.
Shanling UP2  with Bluetooth 5.0 offers more stable connection at twice of speed and long-range. 

2.3 Battery Capacity Shanling UP2 better 

Shanling UP2:  400 mAh

Fiio BTR3:  300 mAh

2.4 Cleaner calls

Shanling UP2  With the high-quality Knowles SiSonic microphone to get clearer calling. 

2.5 Control

Shanling UP2:   One wheel, full control
All functions of the Shanling UP2 are controlled by the multifunctional wheel To achieve the most precise volume control allowing the tiniest volume changes with sensitive earphones, the volume control of the Shanling UP2 was split into 64 steps. Offering much more precise volume control, compared with limited 16 steps of most smartphones. Volume levels can be independently controlled both on the Shanling UP2 and the connected smartphone, keeping volume control always in reach.
Fiio BTR3 : Dual Functionality& Triple Functionality
The volume rocker duplicates track forward and backward functionality with long pressing gestures. Weirdly the minus icon indicated forward and the plus icon backward. I am told this is a result of feedback in the local market from customers. I am not sure the international market would agree, preferring plus to be forward and minus to be backward. The small middle button actually has 3 functions. These include pairing mode, call management for smartphones and Activate Siri should you be on an iOS device. Note, the BTR3 is only officially qualified for iOS devices so Android functionality, though workable is not guaranteed on all versions.

2.6 Inputs & Outputs

Instead of micro-USB you now have USB-C which is a welcome addition for future-proofing and faster charging from the likes of power banks. You can also use the USB-C connection for USB-DAC output from your PC in a wired configuration.
However,  the 3.5mm TRS jack of Fiio BTR3 is at the bottom beside the USB-C port. This means your IEM or headphone cable will push down and curve up creating a slight level of awkwardness in handling, especially if you are wearing the dongle around your neck. I actually would have preferred if they had of left it at the top rather than the bottom.   

2.7 Clip case

Shanling UP2  Removable clip case Offering high practicality of clip, while making it easy to narrow it down for comfortable use in a pocket.
Fiio BTR3  Spring ClipThe back has a  spring clip and lanyard system and it does come with a black nylon strap to allow you to hang it from your neck should you wish to do that. The finish is a smoother black metal finish.

2.8 NFC  

Fiio BTR3 Supports NFC but Shanling UP2 not.

2.9  Resistance to fingerprints

BTR3: What I like about the BTR3 glass is the resistance to fingerprints (oleophobic as FiiO term it). You will be hard-pressed to leave an oily smudge anywhere on the BTR3. 
All you have to do is choose the DAC that's right for you, plug it in, and enjoy!
Whether you're upgrading a hi-fi system or just want to improve the sound from your laptop, a high-quality DAC can make all the difference. Once you hear the difference, it's hard to go back.
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