Help a new guy understand - Is the BTR3K all I really need?

You’ll have to excuse my ignorance here as I’m really new to higher-end audio. It started with picking up the 58X Jubilees and I love the open-back nature of it (never experienced open-back before). It’s also exactly in line with what I prefer in audio, though I can’t describe it, maybe good clean bass without losing detail in vocals and trebles. Just clean in general.

I come from daily driving HyperX Cloud Flight, which definitely isn’t bad, and has the wonderful convenience of wireless. If only I could make the 58x wireless…

You can probably guess where this is going: enter the BTR3K. I love this little thing. My motherboard has built-in bluetooth with AptX so it’s perfect, and I can just plug it in as a USB dac for no latency. Even got it set to automatically switch to bluetooth when it’s unplugged.

But, I’ve seen forum posts and reddit threads talking about how the BTR3K doesn’t bring out the best in the 58x, BTR5 has better quality audio, or you’d be better off with a proper amp, etc.

So to try this out, I also picked up the BTR5 and the JDS Atom Amp. My motherboard (Maximus XI Hero) has a real decent dac onboard, fully shielded, so figured I didn’t need an external dac, but I also picked up the SoundBlaster X3, G6, Micca OriGen, basically stuff with return policies just to try out.

Here’s the problem for me: I can’t hear the difference… with any of them, like maybe with the G6 but I felt that’s because the bi-amp was throwing off stereo imaging for me and I didn’t like it.

Anyway, main focus is the BTR3K on USB vs the Atom amp off onboard audio. These sound identical to me while using the 58x (and the starfields which I also picked up). BTR5 also sounds identical to the BTR3K for me, but has way worse range so that’s a no-go.

Am I high? I feel like I just simply don’t have the ears to pick out the differences. I’ve also heard both the BTR3K and Atom described as “transparent” so maybe they both just have extremely similar sound profiles.

Sorry for the long post but I suppose I also wanted to share my audio journey. I want to say the BTR3K is plenty for my needs, so maybe help convince me one way or another, or advice in picking out the differences. Thanks for reading :slight_smile:

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Welcome to the forum! I’m not that experienced but let me try to help a little here. First, I will say the quote from Andrew Robison I really like: “the only person who needs to like the sound of your system is you”; so it can be that for you the BTR3K is enough, and nothing is wrong with that. That being said, maybe it’s worth trying something before this conclusion.

The first thing to look for its what source you’re using. This makes a big difference. I use most Spotify but I also use some FLACs and CD rips. Using Spotify I begin to feel more difference by changing stream quality to Very High and, especially, turning off normalize volume. I thought this was a gimmick for quite some time but now I’ve even recognized something was off when and update changed the settings all of a sudden. Also, note that Windows can cap your bit rate, so if you’re using your computer check into your sound proprieties to see the bit rate and bit depth it’s configured to.

Also, out of curiosity, have you tried using the Micca Origen or other output to the Atom? I would expect some difference from even from your Motherboard, but maybe trying different DAC solutions in the same Amp would be interesting.

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Thank you for the reply! It’s definitely comforting to hear that quote because it makes sense with this dive into higher end audio.

Good point. I’m mostly using Spotify and well aware of quality and normalize settings, because I can hear the difference with that. I do have a flac library but at that point, I can’t discern any difference between Spotify’s Very High setting and flac files, so I just stick with Spotify.

Also, I am aware of windows’ settings with audio devices, but again I can’t hear the difference between 16b 48k and 32b 192k etc. I mostly stick with highest bit 48k because I noticed some apps freak out when audio devices change with different rates.

I unfortunately already returned the Origen before I had the Atom. But I did try my onboard audio vs the line-out feature on the Arctis Pro Wireless, no noticeable difference for me. One thing I did try is plugging my 58x directly into the line-out of the Arctis and that’s where I could see the amp coming into play because it felt more closed-off if that makes sense. The amp definitely helped opening up the music.

Thanks again for the reply and suggestions! I think in terms of daily driving, the BTR3K is the way to go for me, but I’ll probably keep the Atom around in case I do pick up something that needs a good proper amp.

I will say this makes sense for me. There are some songs I hear a difference, but I’m still to pass a blind test 320kbps vs FLAC, so maybe is just some sort of placebo effect.

Also agreed here, I just warned this because one time windows set a Bluetooth Headphone I was testing out to bellow 16-bit 44.1KHz, and THAT was a terrible experience.

I would say that makes sense, as a Line out should have limitations in drive capability. From my understanding, having more power gives a headphone better excursion, so the “closed-off” makes sense.

At this point, I would say if you want to experience sound changes, it would need to invest in other gear. Maybe a more warm sounding amp like the Liquid Spark or a Class A Schiit Asgard. Maybe trying out tubes vs solid-state. Hell, maybe even try other headphones for different flavors or some IEMs. I particularly don’t like the 58x for more “open recordings”, like orchestras and big band jazz; my K712 enter for this kind of music, but that’s just me.

But to suggestions of this kind, I think its better someone with more experience tunes in, as I am still quite inexperienced on all this. Since I live abroad, testing out equipment is kinda hard so I make a lot more considerations before pulling the trigger on stuff.

And besides all that, if you’re happy with what you have, then good! Enjoy the music, which should be the most important part of all. Maybe consider discovering new bands and invest money in supporting artists instead? After all, without them, we would only have pure sinewave to test our stuff. :laughing: