One of the downsides to rapidly advancing tech is the sense you’re missing out. This happened with my first car over a decade ago. All I wanted was a AUX connection so I could connect my Zune to the car. I solved this by replacing the radio and when I got my new car, it had that AUX connection but lacked Bluetooth and now Apple CarPlay and I’m sure something else in the next couple years too. Another is products lacking certain features, like I have a wide variety of gaming headphones and earbuds that simply lack Bluetooth. With Apple already removing it in favor of an optional dongle, the world is moving towards Bluetooth and that’s where the BTR3 comes into play.
The Fiio BTR3 is designed to accomplish two functions. The first is adding Bluetooth to certain devices, like headphones or a car, with the other being a digital-to-analog converter (DAC). But, before we talk about functionality, let’s look at the product itself.
Not only is the BTR3 small, it’s designed to be fairly versatile. With the device itself being a couple inches in size, there is no issue porting it around and the build in clip and optional lanyard give it enough versatility to be used at home or on the go. In fact, the only real downside to the portability is the length of the included USB-C cord, but this can easily be corrected by buying a new one and is only an issue if you want it constantly plugged in/the set-up of the area, which in my case was using it in my car.
Another strength to the design are the buttons on the side. Each button has a primary goal, such as power on, play/pause, volume up/down and several ‘hidden’ features. You can see a full list above, but it’s nice to have the ability to largely control the connected device regardless of how close you are to it. The built in mic also worked fairly well, to the point where I could control Siri without the usual issues.
For instance, while the range is pretty good, when I attempted to go from one side of my house to the other, there were issues. That being said, I can get about 70 percent of the way before running into an issue and even when I was multiple rooms away it worked as long as I was within that range. Best of all, the connection for me was all or nothing. I could take one step out of the range, get some crackling before the sound dropped entirely, take one step back and hear it crystal clear.
As for power, I didn’t have any issue with the headphones I had laying around. This includes most of the models I’ve reviewed for Just Push Start, two I’m currently working on, some old ones I had laying around and even some buds for the sake of it. For better or worse, I couldn’t actually tell the difference in sound between those connected with the BTR3 and directly, outside of the former being louder.
This will likely change sometime in the near future, as the FiiO Music App gives you some control and lists an equalizer as coming soon. This should make it a better companion and give users more control over how things sound, besides simply mirroring what the device is capable of.
Even if the BTR3 is a solid device, the biggest shortcoming is the fact it is not a transmitter. This means you can use it to send sound from a phone to headphones, but not use it to give the Switch Bluetooth and send the signal to Bluetooth headphones. This limits the functionality for console gamers but still plenty useful for something like the PlayStation Vita.
After using a number of devices that had terrible Bluetooth signals and hearing horror stories about similar products, I am happy to say the BTR3 performs as you’d expect. Outside of extreme situations, it maintained a constant connection and gave me access to all the resources you could want from it. Outside of it being extremely loud on my Sony television, even at 1 and it set to the lowest volume, and no built in transmitter, it’s a device I can’t recommend enough. Whether it’s connecting an amazing pair of headphones you want to use ‘wirelessly’ or just giving your car this basic feature, you can’t go wrong with the BTR3.
[Editor’s Note: the BTR3 were provided to us for review purposes.]