Fiio pulls all the stops 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 dubbed the BTR5 2021 solidified Fiio’s position. I called the BTR5 2021 one of the best budget Bluetooth DACs out there, and that’s due to the sheer number of features on offer and the sound quality of what is essentially a small DAC designed for portable use.
Fiio is now taking that winning formula and adding a few more features for its latest model in the series, the BTR7. There’s a lot to like here, and before we get started, here’s a high-level overview of what you’re getting: the BTR7 comes with THX’s AAA28 amp, and it includes a balanced 4.4mm connector as well as a an unbalanced 3.5 mm connector. port – the biggest differentiator from the BTR5.
You also get a new design with a large IPS color LCD display, wireless charging, and all the wireless codecs you need. Considering the BTR7 only costs $199 (opens in a new tab), you get amazing value here. As is the case with all of its products, Fiio bundles a generous amount of accessories with the BTR7, including a leatherette case, USB-C to USB-C cable, and USB-C to USB-A connector.
Fiio has tweaked the design of the BTR7, with the DAC featuring a larger chassis that is 26g heavier than the BTR5. The design is more angular this time around, bringing the BTR7 in line with the likes of the K9 Pro DAC and M11S audio player. Fiio is moving to this design language for its high-end offerings, and it’s great to see the BTR7 following a similar aesthetic as well.
Even though the chassis is bigger, the BTR7 weighs only 68g, making it inherently pocketable. It has dimensions of 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 had any issues. If you’re worried about durability, the included case does a great job of adding a layer of protection without making the DAC bulkier.
The BTR7 has a glass front and back, and you’ll find the usual list of logos on the rear highlighting the DAC’s MQA capabilities as well as THX hardware. The glass back allows for Qi wireless charging, with the BTR7 taking just over three hours to charge via this mode.
Another big change this time concerns the connectors; Fiio now offers a balanced 4.4mm port in addition to the standard unbalanced 3.5mm jack on the BTR7, making the DAC even more versatile. You’ll find the power and volume buttons on the right, along with a charging toggle that lets the BTR7 know whether it should charge when connected to a source or not.
There’s also a larger 1.3-inch IPS color LCD screen on the BTR7, which is particularly handy for seeing what codec is in use as well as volume level and battery details. You can change a few settings right on the device, including gain (high or low), switch between EQ modes, adjust filters, and launch car mode.
But for the most part, you’ll use the Fiio Control app to adjust the BTR7’s settings. Fiio Control provides full 10-band EQ customization, allows you to view all available Bluetooth codecs for the device and set a codec manually, set channel balance and update firmware.
Image 1 of 5
When it comes to connectivity, you get the versatility of USB-C as well as Bluetooth. Given the use case of 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 issues connecting the BTR7 with my Galaxy Z Fold 4 and my Pixel 7 Pro. The DAC here uses Qualcomm’s QCC5124 module, and Fiio has an extensive list of wireless audio codecs that include 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 you don’t, LDAC is built into Android and you should get 96kHz/24bit playback on at just about any phone. When used as a USB DAC, the BTR7 will go up to 384kHz/32bit over PCM, and you get DSD256 decoding as well as an 8x MQA renderer, making the DAC a great choice if you’re using Tidal.
The biggest differentiator for the BTR7 is the use of THX amplifiers, with Fiio noting that it switched to THX hardware after listening to user feedback on delivering a portable DAC with more power. The BTR7 definitely fulfills the mandate in this regard; the 4.4 mm balanced port delivers 320 mW of power at 32 Ω load, 235 mW at 16 Ω, and 40 mW at 300 Ω.
The unbalanced 3.5 mm port goes up to 160 mW at 32 Ω, 165 mW at 16 Ω and 18 mW at 300 Ω. Basically, the BTR7 is capable of driving any IEM, and the power offered with the balanced port should comfortably drive demanding on-ear options without any issues. You’ll also find an omnidirectional mic here which is handy for taking calls, and it works pretty well, although it’s not quite on the same level as what you get on the best wireless headphones.
When it comes to sound quality, the BTR7 delivers the clean, neutral sound characteristic of Fiio’s high-end DACs, and the THX hardware adds a layer of vibrancy to the sound. I’ve used the BTR7 with the FA7S from Audeze Euclid and Fiio, and for the most part I’ve turned to Bluetooth to connect with my phones. LDAC has proven to be the ideal option in this area, offering excellent detail retrieval, resolution and clarity.
You get a punchy bass that adds a lot of character to the sound, and makes IEMs like the Audeze Euclid shine. The midrange is clear and detailed, and there’s a slight warmth to the sound that works great across a variety of genres. The highs are also well defined and engaging, and overall the BTR7 delivers a tone 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 comes into its own in this mode, and it sounds cleaner and more energetic, especially when using the 4.4mm balanced port. Fiio advertises the BTR7 as a portable DAC, but it has the hardware to hold up just fine as a DAC dongle when plugged into Windows.
The BTR7 has an 880mAh battery and it takes just over 90 minutes to fully charge the DAC via USB-C (it charges at 10W) - that number is doubled when using wireless charging Qi wire. As far as battery life goes, the BTR7 managed to deliver just under seven hours of playback with the gain set to high, and it’s more than enough for a Bluetooth DAC in that regard.
Overall, Fiio passed the brief 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 to maximize value. You get a good design, a great sound profile with the ability to drive demanding audio gear, 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 – it’s one of the best DACs you can get for under $250.
(opens in a new tab)
With clean, punchy sound and the ability to drive demanding audio gear, the BTR7 nails the basics. It sounds equally good in Bluetooth and wired mode, and the sheer number of features on offer make the BTR7 the best portable DAC out there today.