Let’s be honest, high quality audio and Bluetooth never have been well together. No one wants to have a high-end headphone and feed her up with crappy, compressed files, right?
That’s where the new, powerful Bluetooth codecs come into play. Thanks to the raising of Bluetooth’s bandwidth, it’s finally becoming possible to enjoy pretty good audio quality over Bluetooth… but unfortunately, we don’t have a universal codec, but a large number of different codecs. For example, Sony’s telephones and headphones only uses they proprietary LDAC codec, while other android devices are using aptX, delivered by Qualcomm. FiiO, while making this High-quality Bluetooth receiver, wanted to be as universal as possible: so, they created the first Bluetooth amplifier that supports ALL the existing wireless audio codecs, such as AAC, SBC, aptX/aptX HD/aptx LL, LDAC and LHDC. In this way, you can get the cleaner bitrate transfer that your device can offer, without bothering with compatibility anymore.
Aesthetically pleasing, with nice smooth edges, small rectangular shape, large use of glass and matte-black metal, the only LED indicator is the RGB “FiiO” written in the front. The different colors show which codec you are using at that moment: blue (SBC), cyan (AAC), purple (aptX and aptX-LL), red (charging), yellow (aptX-HD), white (LDAC) or green (LHDC). Battery life, thanks to the large 300mAh battery, is pretty good: i could use it for more than 8 straight hours, and the charging time sits around 90 minutes. One little downside that I noticed is that it tends to become pretty hot (and it of course drains faster) while using the LDAC codec, that is the heaviest codec available. That’s not an issue, since it can still be used for at least six hours even on the heaviest load and, looking at the enormous bitrate of that codec (990 kbps, nearly twice the bitrate of the main rival, the aptxHD), it’s totally worth it. But, of course, you need a compatible device.
While charging, you can still use it as a standalone, driver-less DAC, and it actually worked pretty well. It was a nice upgrade from the on-board DAC-amp of my xps13, but I’m pretty sure that you are not going to use a Bluetooth receiver just as a portable DAC, right?
The power output has been increased over the previous versions, but it’s still in the weak side. It delivers 25 mW@32ohm and 33mW@16ohm. Enough for almost every IEM, but simply not enough for more demanding, full size headphones. I’ve tried it with my outside cans, the Takstar pro82, and it did a pretty good job, that also did with the ATH m40x, but of course it wasn’t enough for my HifiMan he400i, nor for my Beyerdynamic dt990 pro. But that’s not strange at all, since it is so small: just 58mm long, 25mm wide and 10.4mm thick (without the back clip) and weighs barely 26 grams. I found it perfect while running, since i just couldn’t feel it at all while hanging from my t-shirt. The output impedance of 0.3Ohms is impressive, with THD+N at .003% and signal-to-noise at 120 dB. Overall, the sound signature is pretty flat and natural, delivering good detail and balance. I especially enjoyed it with my Fibae 3, that are not power hungry but at the same time they need a good DAC, otherwise they sound muddled. Oh, and it also has a pretty good microphone too! The clip is solid, and the buttons are a pleasure to press, feeling sturdy. Something that really astonished me was the range: I could move freely around my house, even on different floors, and it always worked flawlessly. Impressive.
FiiO is also working on an app, ” FiiO music App”, that will let you control remotely this tiny device: at the moment you can get it as a beta-tester from the FiiO website, or if you have an Apple device, you should be able to find it directly from the app store. The FiiO Music app has a wide range of audio formats compatibility including DSD, WAV, FLAC, APE, AIF, ALAC, MP3, OGG, WMA and all three transmission rates of LDAC including 330kbps, 660kbps and 990kbps, plus a lot of small yet useful add-ons, like gapless playing or an efficient sorting system, similar to other famous music apps online.
So, to sum up, this could be the best Bluetooth receiver available at the moment. The upgrade in the materials and in the AMP raised the price a bit at a higher yet still reasonable 70€ price tag. Although, there is still room for improvement. The logo is a bit too flashy and it can easily be noticed, ruining a bit the sleek body of this little glass and metal artwork, and having both the jack and the USB-C ports on the same side can be a problem in some space-tight scenarios, but that’s nothing too important, since it also packs a good DAC, a better amp, an extremely broad Bluetooth codec support, USB DAC functionality, good battery life, even a microphone! Looking at all those features, those 70€ feel like a good deal, providing a large flexibility of uses. Good job FiiO for having listened to all the feedbacks of the community!
- Every wireless codec available
- USB C to charge
- Works as portable DAC
- Good battery life
- Good Companion App
- While carrying heavy codecs it heats
- Power output is only decent (yet still great for the most people)