BTR3 supports basically every codec out there. There are a few performance-related differences between them, but overall, as long as it receives signal, the BTR3 amazes. It also works as a USB DAC, and sounds great in that role. Measurements linked were made in SBC, AAC, and LDAC modes. As you can see from the screenie below and the information in the linked article, BTR3 is pushing the bounds of portable audio. There are dedicated audio players that measure worse. There are dedicated audio players that output less voltage. Damn good.
I really wish that BTR3 bested the BTR1 in every non-audio respect. If only it had the latter‘s connection quality. Both return near-black backgrounds, though BTR3 hisses even less than an iPhone SE through Campfire Audio’s super-sensitive Comet earphones, making it the least hissy Bluetooth DAC/headphone amp I’ve yet tried, if not one of the least hissy devices in the audio mass market. FiiO nailed it.
BTR3 bests uBTR in every unloaded audio metric, and even the amazing BTR1 in most measures, including less than a third of its IMD and noise. Not bad. Not bad at all. Under load, some of that is reversed; Note that in all modes I’ve tested, it shows a bit of high-frequency roll off. Honestly, if you hear it, you might like it. When done right, lowpass filters sound great. And honestly, BTR3’s lowpass filter is genius.
One thing I really dig is how well the BTR3 portrays stereo gradations. At first I thought it was too central, but the more I listened the more I realised that it was that stereo bands are detailed and allowed to fade to the sides rather than present a wall of equal pressure sound. This style makes for a deep, nuanced sound stage whose lateral cues are delicate and fine.
This is particularly the case in the bass, where stereo and frequency detail are spot on. Both return absolutely flat signals, but fine gradations, speed of decay and attack, and delicate turns into the mids make the bass deep, reflexive, and open. It’s the best, most open, and nuanced bass rendition I’ve heard in a wireless device, ever.
It holds signal under load almost perfectly, with just a small uptick in IMD in certain situations. And, it outputs marginally power than an iPhone SE, which is just a few dB from the likes of a DP-S1. The BTR3 is powerful. It has great resolution. It utilises the best array of wireless codecs out there, and each is indicated by a change in the FiiO logo colour.
Overall, it is suited the the exact same headphones your iPhone SE/6 is, and to a lesser extent, your DP-S1 is. That is, it is as powerful as the iPhone, and in most areas measures better. Its measurements trail those of the DP-S1 but not by much. And while not as powerful as the DAP, it is powerful. It gets way too loud for my Ultrasone Edition 8 and puts out enough power to make the HD600 sound good, if not great.
But the less expensive and hissier uBTR has better wireless connection than it, and because it is cheaper and plastic, I feel better throwing it around. Sure, it can’t hold a candle to either the BTR1 or BTR3 as regards audio performance, but it nails convenience. Between the BTR1 and BTR3, I will chose the BTR1 every time. No, it doesn’t sound as good. No it doesn’t support the same amazing array of codecs. But it stays connected better, is nearly as good sounding, and is less expensive.
While I’ve been and am fast becoming even more unreasonable a cheerleader for FiiO’s growing BTR series, I’m not a fan of the BTR3. Sure, it nails the basics: signal quality, noise floor, loaded and unloaded signal quality, and now APTx/LDAC support. Sure, it has great battery life, and is built well. But let’s be clear, its Bluetooth signal catching quality is poor. If it were as good as the BTR1’s I’d recommend it hands-down. Because it is worse than that, and therefore way worse than the uBTR, and in practice only as good as a MyST 1866 Bluetooth DAC from 2012, I can’t recommend it for anything but close range wireless.
But there’s always the Fiio BTR1, that’s my favorite.