FiiO BTR5 2021 Review

FiiO BTR5 2021

App Support

FiiO has an app named FiiO Control. The app is available both on Google Play Store & Apple’s App Store. With this app, you can control plenty of settings. On top of the options you can already control via the device’s menu, there are a couple of extras in the app. Within the app, you can control input priority, change button behaviors, select particular Bluetooth codec or codecs, access a more detailed volume control panel, meddle with distortion compensation setting, adjust DAC clock divider level, and more. The app also comes with a 10-band equalizer and a couple of presets to choose from. I recommend you install it and take a look at the options. One thing that is missing with this app is the OTA firmware update support. Unfortunately, you have to have a windows machine to update BTR5’s firmware.

FiiO BTR5 2021

Sound & Performance

The BTR5 2021 features a fairly balanced signature with slight hints of warmth across the spectrum. It offers plenty of details for the price and its technical proficiency is pleasing for its form and factor. 

The BTR5 2021 does not significantly saturate the sound signature of your IEMs therefore it gives you a chance to enjoy freedom with your favorite IEMs without changing the core of their signatures. That is, after all, the ultimate goal of this device’s existence and it does its job well. The overall presentation is vivid with a good amount of air. The perceived clarity and resolution are certainly satisfactory. The tonality of the device doesn’t feel particularly artificial or unnatural, which is a pretty big compliment for a device that’s around the $100 mark.

The bass region of BTR5 2021 sounds rounded and powerful. It offers good punch and dynamism for the price and size. The thickness and the texture of the low-end region are quite good and satisfactory as well.

The midrange of the BTR5 2021 is clean, articulate, and fairly resolving. The upper mids show good extension but are very controlled at the same time. Additionally, instruments have good breathing room and the stage does not feel cramped. I quite like the midrange reproduction. Female vocals sound clear and fairly resolving for the price. However, at certain times, the staging feels a little too linear, especially when there are a lot of instruments playing at the same time. Yes, it is a technically capable device but it has its limitations compared to high-performance DACs and DAPs on the market. This device offers many features and good sound quality for around a hundred bucks so I really can’t complain here. It’s a well-done product in my opinion.

Moving on to the treble range, the device has good resolution here as well, the treble is clean and the extension is very good for the price. The BTR5 2021 reaches the top octave without any sharp overtones. Overall, I think the device offers satisfactory sound quality and is certainly sufficient on the go. The fact that I haven’t felt like it is limiting my higher-end IEMs is concrete proof for me that FiiO has nailed this product.

Wired Performance

Listening to the device out of the balanced output and through a wired connection gets you some bonuses. Frankly, it sounds technically better. The PRaT is improved, the instrument positioning feels slightly sharper, imaging feels better and the device handles congestion just a little better than before.

Is it a groundbreaking difference? No, I don’t think so. If you’re buying this device to use it wired only, don’t. There are many alternatives available on the market for that. This device sounds almost as good over Bluetooth and I don’t think you should really worry about that. It definitely does not feel like a night-and-day difference for me but of course, having a single device that does it all is nice. After all, it is all about needs and wants.

FiiO BTR5 2021

Direct Competitor Comparison: BTR5 2021 vs. Shanling UP5

The Shanling UP5 is the direct competitor to FiiO’s BTR5 2021. Let me compare them side by side to give you an idea of their performance. Note that the full review of the UP5 will be available on Headfonia, shortly. 

First of all, there are a couple of physical differences between the two devices. The UP5 is around thirty percent thicker compared to the BTR5 2021. The thicker chassis comes with two bonuses over the BTR5 2021. The first one is the 4.4mm balanced output and the second is the bigger, 680mAh battery. What is more critical to me here is that the UP5 is almost 2 times more expensive than the UP4. It is also around $60 USD more expensive than the BTR5 2021. 

Moving on to the audio-wise differences, there aren’t any major differences between the two devices. They feature a similar audio layout with dual 9219C DACs, FPGA jitter-management, and two crystal clocks. Also, Shanling’s SE power output is slightly higher than the BTR5’s. Apart from these, it is worth noting that Shanling comes with a handsome leather case with a non-functional clip. For the FiiO, you have to get a third-party case if you want to protect the front panel from the daily hustle. Lastly, the FiiO app offers more control over the device compared to its rival.

Last Words

I think FiiO did a great job with this device. Considering the price point and the rich feature set, the BTR5 2021 is a solid option for those looking for a small, all-in-one solution to pair with their IEMs and efficient headphones. The BTR5 2021 offers ample power for your IEMs and can drive sensitive headphones without any setbacks. It also offers a fairly balanced signature with a good technical foundation for the price. It is compatible with a wide range of devices, has many usage cases, and performs above my expectations with its excellent signal stability. The fact that FiiO grants you full control over the device via the FiiO Control App means that you’ll be able to adjust the settings as you please, on the go, without a computer. At this price point, I can’t find anything to complain about. Well done FiiO!

Page 1: FiiO, FiiO BTR5 2021, Packaging & Accessories, Design & Build Quality

Page 2: Amplitude & Chipset, Features & Control

Page 3: App Support, Performance, Wired Performance, Shanling UP5 Comparsion, Last Words

4.4/5 - (218 votes)
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Long time Tech Enthusiast, an ambitious petrol-head, Yagiz likes his gadgets and always finds new ways into the tinkerer's world. He tries to improve anything and everything he gets his hands onto. Loves an occasional shine on the rocks.

11 Comments

  • Reply November 2, 2021

    Steven

    I had the original and it was great.

  • Reply November 2, 2021

    Aron

    Did they fix the problem with the original BTR5, where it breaks the device if you use it as an external DAC plugged in to your laptop? It was still using the battery and it overcharges it. I still have my original in an unusable state, and the internet is also full of posts about this, so I’m not alone…

    • Reply November 2, 2021

      Yagiz

      Yes, you now have the ability to turn off the auto charge feature.

      • Reply November 2, 2021

        Aron

        You could turn off charging in the original BTR5 also, but it was still using the battery and turn off when depleted. This is the only way I can use it… Turning charging on when battery is low and off before it gets full. If I miss it and it gets overcharged, I have to wait a week or two until I can turn it on again. I’m so annoyed by this! An otherwise flawless product, great design, great sound, it does everything so we’ll, and then this…. I don’t know what they were thinking….

  • Reply November 2, 2021

    Sayed Rayan

    I wonder if the Bluetooth performance is better than the original BTR5. I did have connectivity issues over LDAC when my phone was in my pocket

    • Reply November 2, 2021

      Yagiz

      This is highly dependant on your phone, environment and such.

      The new version still uses the same chipset as the original BTR5, so no, upgrading the device will most likely not solve your problems.

  • Reply December 10, 2021

    Anon

    No one ever talks about the BS EQ. How it only works in wireless mode and NOT for LDAC on top of it. Its ridiculous. Even wired mode, no eq? Come onnnnn. You fail fiio

    • Reply December 10, 2021

      Yagiz

      I never use the EQ companies provide. There is a much better alternative. I use poweramp EQ app on Android, it is detailed and provides additional Bluetooth settings to meddle with. Unless we get hardware EQ, this is the best alternative.

  • Reply July 25, 2022

    Pierre

    Hi,
    Please can you have a look at this process, that allows to use the BTR5 2021 within the very light audio structure i have, as sound enhancer. My audio features are:
    – Samsung A12
    – BTR5 2021
    – 2 x SRS XB43

    Process :

    Fiio BTR5 2021: New way to use it at home. My own experience.

    How to improve/increase the sound of your Hi-Fi in stereo thanks to the Fiio BTR5. Audio devices used: Samsung A12 – BTR5 2021 – 2x Sony SRS-XB43

    Pre-requisites:
    – Wi-Fi network
    – Separate application sound function (“son d’application séparé” in french) on your smartphone
    – NFC functions on smartphone and portable columns.

    1) You must be in the same Wi-Fi network to operate
    2) Disconnect bluetooth on smartphone
    3) Connect bluetooth on smartphone
    4) Connect one of the loudspeakers with smartphone bluetooth
    5) Open app “Sony” Music Center
    5) Press + at the bottom right of open page
    6) Connect by NFC smartphone to the 2nd loudspeaker
    6) Then operate the group of loudspeakers in Music Center
    7) Once the loudspeakers are joined, turn off the loudspeakers
    8) Connect one Jack 3.5 cable to each loudspeaker
    9) Turn on the 2 loudspeakers
    10) Turn on Fiio BTR5 with the power button-Apply the settings-Let the screen turn off-Press the multifunction button until the “pairing” mode engages
    11) Go to Smartphone settings – Sounds – Separate application sound – Choose the same audio player or app chosen previously – Press device and choose the connected bluetooth device (other than the smartphone)
    11) Pull down the control window (as for bluetooth) and press media
    12) Make sure the connected configuration is Chosen App/Player – Fiio BTR5
    13) Select the title or playlist to listen to
    14) Play

    For information only. May not work with other audio than the one tested.
    Enjoy your enhanced music

  • Reply January 11, 2023

    Liam Wedd

    Hi saw this article and noticed it said the the BTR5 2021 worked with the PS5 have seen many mixed comments on this as I have been searching for an answer. Have you personally used it with the PS5 or asumed that it would work based of compatability?

    • Reply January 11, 2023

      Yagiz

      Hello. I gifted my PS5 away but let me try to enlighten you. The PS5 works with devices that feature UAC 1.0 USB. A.k.a. USB Audio Class 1.0. It is a standard dating back over 20 years. The BTR5 can be switched to UAC1. After connecting it via USB, Go here on the PS5; Settings → Devices → Audio Devices → Output Device → USB Headphone (yes it will likely be listed as headphone).

      The PS5’s support for external DACs are messy, it can limit USB Audio output volume. So without an actual PS5, I can’t really answer your question as comprehensively as I’d like.

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