I’m in the market for a small bluetooth DAC/AMP that I can use as a USB DAC as well.
I need it to be really small, so the shortlist was:
BTR5 - €120
BTR3 - €60 (returned model)
BTR3K - €65 + duties and stuff
Shanling UP2 - €70
The BTR5 and BTR3 (new) are out of stock everywhere and the BTR3K is only available from China which would make delivery slow and import duties increase the price.
So I narrowed it down to the open box BTR3 or the Shanling UP2. I only use IEMs and Koss PP and KSC75, so crazy power is not a necessity for me. I heard the BTR3 colours the sound quite a bit while the UP2 is more transparent. Anyone who has tried both have a recommendation towards one or the other?
Also does anyone know how the UP2 acts when used as a USB DAC? I will use that feature a lot so if it keeps charging I’m afraid it will hurt the life expectancy of the battery.
@Martward If you are looking for something wired I would honestly try to get something like the ifi Hip DAC or the XD-05. You said that you wanted it to be very small though, so I am not sure how well that would work.
Usually the Fiio items will sound a little more analytical and transparent, whereas the Shanling will sound warmer and give possibly a little bit extra bass, which honestly is something I like for my KCS75 since they sound so bright already. I think the UP2 would be a decent choice. Personally though I just wouldn’t use any of these wired.
If you are interested there is also the Earstudio ES100. It is mega-packed with all kinds of features and even has an app you can change settings for it in on your phone. That might be worth a consideration if you want that.
Again, I would use something else for USB audio like the ifi Hip DAC or the XD-05, but you can’t really find anything small like the ones we we are talking about here.
Also @Martward If you are not interested in the other 2 options I suggested, and want the BTR5, there is a website I found that seems to do shipping to Europe. https://penonaudio.com/fiio-btr5.html?cf_chl_jschl_tk=c559ad1b0d4006d774e6d15ba8aeab7a5200db81-1586003502-0-AdUhbYw6CJFe3vkl9WqsmuhuRRCUTXoMKsZrx5heMjLzQDATVRBV9YWdPPZQlMIejWvruSl3WoPfGV7BlRQWmq2IDPVIWVzXt3F9uBQZdtTTe0m5DpxSP-1Q7gADG6wTAOmvBfO1BskXQ06DDGIHEXNKZf31NAzseRxoMz-zTydoElEn7-KusaaEvCR_BSufBoMYbDc_5vKz2XJKqz4YqENN2JkcGnaWErlApXXH9RvFCgzURMucr3nbTdBSodDkGVJItF460as_rN5PKrCOzo5gOr2WGtkZM2XiJVTNCz1_
I was also looking at the ES100, but the only option I found so far is $200 (€180) which is a bit much. My situation is this. I have an e10k which I now use both at home and at work (well right now I work from home but you get what I mean). I usually lie in bed for about an hour before sleeping and I want to listen to music then and my phone doesn’t have a 3.5mm port and I fall asleep with music on so I would wake up with a dead phone battery if I use a usb c to 3.5mm. My idea is to use the e10k at home at my desktop and use the Bluetooth/USB DAC on the go and in bed.
So I want to have something I can hook up at night via Bluetooth but which I can also bring to work and use with a cable when the battery is dead. I’m not necessarily looking for an upgrade soundwise, and I’m not willing to spend more than €100 on this.
Would they sound worse wired than wireless? And do you think they would sound worse than an e10k? I only listen to Spotify so I don’t particularly care about support for hi-res stuff.
I saw that the BTR3 also has access to the equalizer app, so that could be a nice thing.
That vendor also sends from america so that would mean that I would have to pay customs duty, adding about 20%.
So honestly I think the best usage for these kinds of small devices is bluetooth. You are already going for something small so it won’t have the same quality as something that is bigger that has more clean power. So if you need bluetooth then these are definitely good. But for wired I would get something else.
I think the best options here are the UP4 and the BTR5. The UP4 will have a more warm sound, maybe add some bass, the BTR5 would be more analytical and transparent. The thing about the UP4 compared to the BTR5 wired though is that the UP4 only supports up to 16bit/48khz format. The BTR5 up to 32bit/384khz format. For bluetooth however, the UP4 probably has the upper hand in quality.
In short, I would say the UP4 wins for bluetooth in most cases, but the BTR5 for wired.
More than 16bit/48khz is not necessary for me I guess, since I only listen through Spotify anyway. I have no problem with buying something now and then upgrading it later down the line. I’ll look at the UP4 again, but I’m not sure I want to wait 2-3 weeks TBH. And bringing it in from US or Asia will simply add too much.
They’re a really good match, nothing but good things to say about both of them. The thing is, I originally got the UP2 because my phone’s dac chipset is not good. But now I’m selling my phone cause it started getting finicky so I figured I might as well get a phone with a good chipset and call it a day. So now I’m just plugging the starfields into the LG V20 so I have no use for the UP2 besides perhaps car/gym use. Both of which aren’t readily available at the moment because of the crisis lol
I got impatient and ordered the UP2 already. For now there was no reason and I decided to not invest in anything anymore for a while. I don’t mind upgrading it later on when I need balanced or when I need something with more power. I just really couldn’t listen to my current Bluetooth setup anymore. The background hiss and lack of dynamics is fine when I’m on my bike with only one earpiece in but it’s undo-able when I lie in bed. Plus the guy was kinda vague about when the UP4 would be back in stock again.
Unless you have hard to drive cans that would require the extra power of the balance output I would say 67mw unbalanced should be more then enough, in my opinion. I don’t think there’s a significant jump in audio quality either, the UP4 uses two of the same audio chip instead of one. I haven’t looked up direct comparisons but I don’t think it would be very noticeable. Either way, even if it is, I would say the UP2 is good value and is slept on.