Starting with its low noise and jitter levels, and continuing with a measurable output that betters an iPhone SE in most metrics, the BTR1 is a veritable audio powerhouse. For 49$ it is an eye opener.
Before we smack the web with BTR1 accolades, however, let’s talk power. There’s not a lot. It’s enough for most, if not all earphones on the market. But it gets about 9/10 as loud as an iPhone SE, which is a bit quieter than an iPhone 6. If you have ever wanted (I hesitate to say needed) more power, the BTR1 won’t do.
Very little hiss noise is audible through its output. In fact, noise levels are just a little louder than an iPhone SE, viz., practically inaudible. While the BTR1 connects about as well as a 2012 BT device, its audio performance is totally state-of-the-art. In fact, hiss and other noise from Bluetooth devices are the primary reasons I stayed away for so long. It puts as much stereo sound pressure into bass as it does high, giving a wide, open sound stage, feely and airy.
Fiio’s 50$ M3 disappointed me on many levels. Considering the price point, my expectations for the BTR1 were low. I nodded along to my first listen. Obviously, load was no problem. I detected no bass dives, no mid-high peaks, and no volume drops when playing back square waves. And even at high volumes, it kept audible sheer out of some tough loads. Even at first blush, I realised that it was a little engine that could.
Measurably, it’s more impressive. I clock -114dB of noise, and stereo separation exceeding the stock iPhone SE’s output, with commensurate THD and IMD. In all respects, the BTR1 performs like a well engineered – yet low power – dedicated headphone amp. To this, it adds what essentially is a flat, accent-less sound signature fit for the discriminating listener. And, as is borne out by its measurements, it is ready for 24-bit.
While it tests better than the iPhone SE, I can’t say that I hear much if anything between the two. Of course, I believe that the iPhone SE holds its own even against a few expensive audiophile peers. I appreciate that the semi-soft upper midrange perfected in the iPhone 4s is largely untouched in the SE. The graceful openness of both units is well appreciated.
Good sound, BTR1- when I can connect to you.
If you’ve got 49$ to spend, have a favourite pair of earphones which you are sick of tethering to your phone or player, check out the BTR1. Just be sure to do some acrobatics to test connection. The BTR1 does away with the tether, while keeping your favourite phones in tact. It its made well, is easy to use, and at least audibly, performs amazingly.
Fiio: fix signal reception and I’ll add to the end of this essay with a well-deserved Well Done.