FiiO BTR3K vs. BTR5 Comparison Bluetooth DAC/AMP User Review!!
Who doesn’t know FiiO, the brand that brings us regular new and innovative audio products. They have products in almost all price ranges and categories, they manufacture hi-res audio players, desktop DAC/AMP’s, and much more. They have recently released two Bluetooth DAC/AMP’s, FiiO BTR5 and FiiO BTR3K. While the BTR5 is the flagship level performing Bluetooth DAC/AMP, the BTR3K is an entry-level device with amazing performance.
BTR5 and BTR3K:-
The FiiO BTR5 and BTR3K are Bluetooth DAC/AMP dongles, that you can use to enjoy high-quality music any time anywhere. You just have to connect it to your phone wirelessly via Bluetooth. Both the devices feature dual output ports, one 3.5mm single-ended port, and one 2.5mm balanced port. Though there is a big difference in sound quality output as the flagship BTR5 houses a high-performance dual DAC setup featuring dual ES9218P DAC chips while the BTR3K houses a high-grade Dual DAC setup featuring dual AK4377A chips. Both the BTR5 and BTR3K features a flagship Bluetooth chip from Qualcomm, the CSR8675. They both offer Bluetooth V5.0 functionality with Hi-Res Codecs support including LDAC, AptX HD, AptX LL, SBC, AAC, and more. Though both of them look similar the difference is that BTR5 houses a small OLED display on the front while there is no display on the BTR3K just some LED indicator. The BTR5 is priced at 124.99$ and the BTR3K is priced at 69.99$. You can check more technical differences between them in the image given below.
A very good friend of mine has bought both the units from our store at hifigo.com. He has compared both in a post on head-fi.org. we are going to share his thoughts now so that you can understand both the products from a consumer’s point of view. Please note that all the further comments are by my dear friend hmscott and we are sharing his views on our blog.
“When the BTR3k arrived I was listening on Youtube with the BTR5 as I was in the middle of doing research, so youtube got the first listen on the BTR3k at the moment of unboxing. The headphones in use when I switched in the BTR3k are the Sennheiser HD 598 Cs connected unbalanced 3.5mm to the BTR5/BTR3k.
I've only had a few minutes listening with the BTR3k, but so far it "sounds good", not much different than I was hearing with the BTR5 just minutes before. Of course, there is a difference, and I'll report back after the burn-in of the BTR3k and after A/B with the BTR5 on a variety of sources.
The "front panel indicator" on the BTR5 is colorful and bright, and the BTR3k lit up looks so darned cute sitting in its tiny plastic clip
Note that the BTR3k orientation for it's "Top/Bottom" are reversed from the BTR5. The BTR5 headphone connectors on the "Top" (in relation to the OLED display) with the USB-C connector coming out the "Bottom". The BTR3K has the USB-C connector as the "Top" (in relation to the FiiO lighted indicator LED) and the headphone connectors are on the "Bottom".
The BTR3k Control buttons are still on the right side as oriented with the USB-C cable on top and the FiiO LED logo right-side up.
BTW, the accessories box #1 is the bottom half of the product box and it contained the plastic clip holder for the BTR3k along with the short USB-C to USB-A cable. There was a surprise in what I thought was the manual box hidden under the BTR3k - it also contained a nice camera style wrist lanyard, I haven't connected it up yet but I will at some point. I don't see a tie-down point on the BTR3k body itself, but the plastic clip has a small hole at the top of the back of the Clippy part that could be used to loop the tie-down end of the lanyard.
Ok, that's about it for my first reactions to the using BTR3k 10 minutes out of the box. I'll do listening / burn-in for the BTR3k over the next few days and sometime along that time I will A/B with the BTR5.
I'll also read the BTR3k manual (included in the box, I haven't even looked at it or checked for an updated manual online) to figure out how to use the BTR3k controls to change settings, and I'll check to see if the Android control app "sees" the BTR3k, and I will post discoveries along the way.
Quick update: I did notice the BTR3k had nice dynamics and good bass on voices - even on YouTube. I switched to DVD to take a break - I'm on Episode 5 of Season 1 of "Roswell - New Mexico" and BAM!! the intro Title sequence bass drop really took me by surprise - I had the BTR3k volume way too high.
I already miss the numerical readout of where the volume is on the BTR5, but I'll get used to it I suppose. The vocals and effects ring clear - lots of dynamics - I am enjoying listening to the BTR3k at normal volume.
I did think of it, but I'm not quite ready to start swapping back and forth with the BTR5 yet... I'm on a break
Nintendo Switch Update: Yes!, the BTR3k can connect to the switch via USB and it works great. Not unexpected since the BTR3 can do this as well, but after the disappointment finding out that the BTR5 won't connect to the Nintendo Switch (also PS4 per the BTR5 thread), it's a nice reason to keep the BTR3K around even though I've really enjoyed the BTR5... maybe I really do "need" both.
Last Update for the Night: Loving the BTR3k sound - it's great on the Switch, so I spent a bunch of time playing games and watching YouTube on the Switch, and the BTR3k worked great.
A couple of caveats, the BTR3k doesn't appear to allow me to turn off "Charging" - the Switch was down to 43% when I was done - not a problem if I ran it docked - which it is now.
And, the BTR3k doesn't allow changing the BT / DAC priority - the BTR3k is always in BT priority - so I needed to make sure BT was turned off when moving between BT and DAC mode on my PC and when I was running in DAC mode on the Switch.
Both small annoyances solved by BTR5's ability to change those options. Perhaps I am missing something, I haven't tried to look at the BTR3k in the FiiO app(s) or if the BTR3k actually shows up in the App. The BTR3k "manual" and "quickstart" don't mention either one(?)
For me, neither baked-in setting on the BTR3k wasn't a problem, perhaps on the iPhone DAC mode that would be a problem? Does anyone use the BTR5 / BTR3 on iPhone in USB DAC mode, is that even possible?
Anyway, back to watching "Roswell - New Mexico" and listening through the BTR3k...
"About an Hour Later...": So, I switched over to Netflix on PC USB DAC mode with the BTR3k - I'm moving gradually into experiencing the BTR3k - and the BTR3k sounds so much better than I remembered the BTR5 on the Netflix pre-view rolls when scrolling across movies - that I decided to listen to some Taylor Swift's Reputation Stadium Tour and I gotta say the BTR3k rocks! - so strange I don't recall having this reaction when I listened to it with the BTR5 - so I finally broke down and switched in the BTR5, and either something is wrong with my BTR5 - maybe installing the FiiO High Res Driver? - v4.47.0 - or maybe the 3.5mm output of the BTR3k just sounds better?...
Maybe it's because I've got the BTR3k's 3.5mm volume pinned to the maximum with my Sennheiser HD 598. Rock On!!
It's probably because I normally don't turn up the BTR5 very high - no particular reason other than I'm usually doing other things. Cranking the BTR5 up to 42 on H gain kicks it fine, the BTR3k - maybe it's just the honeymoon phase, something different...
Maybe I need to Rock Out more often.
Good Morning Update: I discovered that the BTR3k has better BT reach in my home-usage. In places where the BTR5 consistently loses connectivity - either directly or by having my body get between the BTR5 and the PC - the BTR3k is maintaining solid BT connectivity.
My BTR3k has much better Bluetooth reach than my BTR5. I was surprised I could control (start/stop the media) while listening to a YouTube video, walking out the door (wearing Beat's wired to the BTR3k) down the path toward the car with no breakups. Through internal house clutter, wall/sliding glass door, shrubbery, with an otherwise clear shot between me and my PC (elevated about 3 feet) the BTR3k stayed connected about 25-30 feet away.
I'm still listening on 3.5mm USB DAC mostly - with some BT, maybe tomorrow / this weekend I'll move to 2.5mm balanced.
Update "Yup, there it is!": Moving to Amazon Music HD - on HD and Ultra HD tracks - the BTR5 lights up the room (between my ears), and while the BTR3k kicks it and is a blast to listen to, now the BTR5 takes my ears and won't let go.
On the previous materials - Youtube, DVD, Netflix, Disney+, Starz, etc for some reason the BTR3k beckoned me back every time and I listened to hours of media on the BTR3k without missing the BTR5 - both BTR3k/BTR5 driving 3.5mm.
I downloaded and ran the FiiO Control app on a tablet, phone, and set the BTR3k USB DAC Priority + Charge On Always. I already had the FiiO Music app, but I liked jumping right into the FiiO control vs going through FiiO Music menus. I hope to start the 2.5mm listening soon.
Update Samsung S6: Love this tablet, and I'm enjoying the LDAC listening a bit more than USB DAC mode as it's at 48k - Samsung S20 Ultra at 192k is better. Both the BTR3k and BTR5 connected to the Tab S6 via BT LDAC sound great.
Update BTR5 glitch: IDK what's up with my BTR5, after pairing with the Samsung S6 tablet I'm having a weird 2nd "connection chime" with a "ghost" device, and the BTR5 shows APTX for that "device" and I can't get audio from the intended device I connected with.
Whenever I connect to a device I get the connection chime, then I get another connection chime immediately after the first, then I can't get audio from the device I'm pairing with
It started after I paired with my Samsung S6 Tablet using LDAC. I tried clearing all of the BTR5 pairings then cleared the BTR5 pairings on each device, powered down all the other devices (completely, not just turning off BT), and I still get a 2nd connection chime when pairing / connecting to a BT device with the BTR5 - PC, Samsung S20 Ultra, Samsung S6 tablet.
I've ordered a replacement BTR5 and I will continue to debug the BTR5 to see if I can get it working again, or if that doesn't work, I will RMA it.
The BTR3k is now my primary BT USB DAC carry”
In his words “Both the BTR5 and BTR3k sound great to me. The BTR3k / BTR5 does a great job as an inexpensive replacement for a higher-priced AMP/DAC.” So it seems like both the BTR3K and BTR5 are amazing sounding devices with a very good price to performance ratio. We would like to thank hmscott for his honest user review that is surely gonna help people to choose between the two depending on their usage. You can check more about BTR3K here and about BTR5 here at our store.