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.
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.
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.
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.
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