Fiio is doing all the right things in the portable audio category, and its Bluetooth DACs in particular are highly regarded for their feature set. The BTR5 set the tone for Fiio in this category, and the introduction of an updated model called the BTR5 2021 cemented Fiio’s position. I called the BTR5 2021 one of the best budget Bluetooth DACs out there, and that’s down to the sheer number of features on offer and clean sound reproduction from what’s essentially a small DAC designed for portable use.
Fiio is now taking that winning formula and adding a few extra features for its latest model in the series, the BTR7. There’s a lot to like here, and before I get started here’s a high-level overview of what you get: The BTR7 comes with THX’s AAA28 amp and includes a balanced 4.4mm connector alongside a single-ended 3.5 mm port — the biggest differentiator from the BTR5.
You also get a new design with a large IPS color LCD screen, wireless charging and all the wireless codecs you need. Considering that the BTR7 only costs $199 (opens in new tab), you get a great price here. As is the case with all of its products, Fiio bundles a generous amount of accessories with the BTR7, including a leatherette case, a USB-C to USB-C cable, and a USB-C to USB-A connector.
Fiio has modified the design for the BTR7, with the DAC having a larger chassis that is 26g heavier than the BTR5. The design is more angular this time around, bringing the BTR7 in line with that of the K9 Pro DAC and M11S audio player. Fiio is switching to this design language for its high-end offerings, and it’s great to see the BTR7 follow a similar aesthetic as well.
Although the chassis is larger, the BTR7 weighs just 68g, making it inherently pocketable. It measures 39.6 x 83.6 x 14.6mm and the metal chassis is built to last – I’ve been using the DAC for almost six months now and haven’t encountered a single problem. If you’re concerned about durability, the included case does a great job of adding a layer of protection without adding bulk to the DAC.
The BTR7 has a glass front and back, and you’ll find the usual array of logos on the rear highlighting the DAC’s MQA capabilities, along with THX hardware. The glass back allows for Qi wireless charging, with the BTR7 taking just over three hours to charge through this mode.
Another big change this time around is the connectors; Fiio now offers a balanced 4.4mm port in addition to the standard single-ended 3.5mm connection on the BTR7, making the DAC much more versatile. You’ll find the power and volume buttons on the right side, along with a charging switch that lets the BTR7 know whether to charge when connected to a source or not.
There’s also a larger 1.3-inch IPS color LCD screen on the BTR7, and this is particularly useful for seeing what codec is being used, as well as volume level and battery details. You can adjust some settings directly on the device, including gain (high or low), switch EQ modes, adjust filters, and launch auto mode.
But for the most part, you use the Fiio Control app to adjust settings on the BTR7. Fiio Control offers full 10-band EQ adjustment, allows you to view all available Bluetooth codecs for the device and manually set a codec, set the channel balance and update the firmware.
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In terms of connectivity, you get the versatility of both USB-C and Bluetooth. Given the use case for the DAC as a portable option, most users will use Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity to pair the DAC with their phones, and I had no trouble connecting the BTR7 to my Galaxy Z Fold 4 and Pixel 7 Pro. The DAC here uses Qualcomm’s QCC5124 module, and Fiio has an extensive list of wireless audio codecs, including SBC, AAC, AptX, AptX LL, AptX Adaptive, AptX HD, and LDAC.
Of course, your source device will need an AptX codec to stream at higher bitrates, but even if it doesn’t, LDAC is baked into Android and you should get 96kHz/24bit playback on just about any phone. When used as a USB DAC the BTR7 goes up to 384 kHz/32 bit via PCM, and you get both DSD256 decoding and an MQA 8x renderer, making the DAC a great choice if you use Tidal.
The biggest differentiator for the BTR7 is its use of THX amps, with Fiio noting that it switched to THX hardware after listening to user feedback about delivering a portable DAC with more power. The BTR7 certainly fulfills the assignment in that regard; the 4.4 mm balanced port delivers 320 mW of power into a 32 Ω load, 235 mW into 16 Ω, and 40 mW into 300 Ω.
The single-ended 3.5 mm port goes up to 160 mW at 32 Ω, 165 mW at 16 Ω and 18 mW at 300 Ω. In short, the BTR7 can drive any IEM, and the power offered with the balanced port should drive demanding over-ear options with no problem. You’ll also find an omni-directional microphone here which is useful for taking calls, and it works quite well, although it’s not quite on par with what you get on the best wireless earbuds.
In terms of sound quality, the BTR7 delivers a clean and neutral sound typical of Fiio’s high-end DACs, and the THX hardware adds a layer of liveliness to the sound. I used the BTR7 with the Audeze Euclid and Fiio’s FA7S, and for the most part I turned to Bluetooth to connect to my phones. LDAC proved to be the ideal option in this area as it offers excellent detail, resolution and clarity.
You get an energetic bass that gives a lot of character to the sound, and makes IEMs like the Audeze Euclid shine. The mid-range is clear and detailed, and there’s a slight warmth to the sound that works really well across genres. The treble is also well defined and engaging, and overall the BTR7 delivers a tonality that ticks all the right boxes.
And if you want to unleash the full potential of the BTR7, you’ll need to connect via USB-C. The DAC really comes into its own in this mode and feels cleaner and more energetic, especially when using the balanced 4.4mm port. Fiio advertises the BTR7 as a portable DAC, but it has the hardware to hold up just fine as a dongle DAC when connected to Windows.
The BTR7 has an 880mAh battery and takes just over 90 minutes to fully charge the DAC via USB-C (it charges at 10W) - that number is doubled when using Qi wireless charging. As for battery life, the BTR7 managed to deliver just under seven hours of playback with the gain set to high, and in this respect it’s more than adequate for a Bluetooth DAC.
Overall, Fiio nailed the job with the BTR7. I’ve used a lot of Bluetooth DACs in 2022 and the BTR7 is by far the best option if you’re looking for maximum value. You get good design, an excellent sound profile with the ability to drive demanding audio equipment, all the wireless codecs you need, MQA and DSD decoding in wired mode, and good battery life. The BTR7 isn’t just great because it has Bluetooth connectivity – this is one of the best DACs you can get for under $250.
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With a clean and energetic sound and the ability to drive demanding audio equipment, the BTR7 lays the groundwork. It sounds just as great via Bluetooth and wired mode, and the sheer number of features on offer makes the BTR7 the best portable DAC to date.