Just over a year ago, we reviewed Fiio’s BTR1, a $50 Bluetooth adapter for wired headphones. At the time, the idea of a competent Bluetooth adapter felt fresh — many were still reeling from the removal of the iPhone’s headphone jack, and wired Lightning adapter options were few and underwhelming. The BTR1 was Fiio’s first entry into this market; we liked it very much, but lamented its lack of AAC and somewhat awkward volume step configuration. In the past year, Fiio has been hard at work expanding this line in both directions — the basic μBTR and premium BTR3. This week, we’re looking at a refresh of the original BTR1 — Fiio’s new BTR1K. It’s got updates in all the right places.
The BTR1K is nearly identical to the BTR1 in size, weight, and physical design — it features the same rippled aluminum top casing, matted with a plastic base for wireless connectivity. A metal center button toggles power, while side buttons handle track controls and volume. Like the BTR1, the BTR1K’s 205 mAh battery is good for about 8 hours of playback. The BTR1K’s power output is also about the same, with a claimed 25 mW into 32 ohms (45 mW into 16 ohms). Though we prefer the look of the BTR3, there’s very little to complain about with the BTR1K — it’s still small enough to clip onto a set of headphones and forget about entirely.
The majority of the BTR1K’s upgrades are internal. This new model features the newer Qualcomm QCC3005 Bluetooth chip and AK4376A DAC, supporting Bluetooth 5.0 and aptX, aptX Low Latency, and AAC audio codecs. Like the BTR3, the BTR1K can also function as a USB DAC — no drivers required on macOS for 16bit/48kHz playback. Though we often prefer when a device’s volume control is linked to that of iOS, Fiio has made its volume independent from iOS (and macOS in DAC mode) — in practice, this provides finer control than iOS’ 16 volume steps.
Though underpowered for some headphones, the BTR1K sounds great with IEMs and easy-to-drive full-size headphones. We appreciate the addition of high-resolution codecs, especially since the addition of AAC eliminates the need for lossy transcoding with Apple Music files. Like its predecessor, the BTR1K is a great way to add Bluetooth connectivity to headphones or any other analog audio device. Fiio has done well with this update to the BTR1. It has everything we liked about the original model, but with more functionality and higher-quality sound, for the same price.
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