FiiO UTWS5 Review
It seems that consumer audio is increasingly becoming more and more about Bluetooth capabilities and wireless convenience. I’m excited to see things like the UTWS 5, a true wireless Bluetooth amplifier from FiiO, becoming commonplace in the audio market. With Bluetooth 5.2 technology and Codec capabilities that go as high as aptX Adaptive, let’s see the sort of connection and convenience that the UTWS5 has to offer.
What’s In The Box
-UTWS5 Bluetooth Adapters
-Charging Carrying Case
Look and Feel
FiiO keeps it simple with these little guys, which are small and pretty neutral looking so as to fit in with just about any bud/IEM style that it’s matched with. The charging case is a plain black metal that adds some extra safety and sturdiness to the unit’s portability. The adapters aren’t cumbersome at all, and actually add a little extra support by wrapping around your ear comfortably. This structural aesthetic reminds me of the earbuds that were popular in the 90s and early 2000s that featured hooks that attached to listeners’ outer ears. The button for turning the UTWS5 on and off is right at the end of the adapter and perfectly accessible even when being worn. Their metal build with a semi-flexible rubbery “stem” gives me a feeling that it would take quite the accidental mishandling to actually break either adapter.
Design, Bluetooth and Battery
The UTWS5 contains a AK4332 DAC with a QCC5141 Bluetooth chip. Supported codecs include AAC, SBC, aptX and aptX adaptive. Bluetooth 5.2 is used for a strong connection, which in the few hours I spent with these adapters didn’t drop out on me. I further tested this connection by walking a good 40 feet away from my device, and still experienced an uninterrupted audio signal (granted I didn’t have any walls or doors obstructing the connection). Do drop outs ever occur? Probably, but it’s a pretty great sign that I have none to report.
The headphone adapters themselves have an 8 hour battery life, but another 30 hours in contained in the charging case. A combined total of 38 hours is a solid amount of time that’s comparable to, and even surpasses, some high quality Bluetooth headphones.
Here’s a tip: if you want to know how good a Bluetooth amplifier will sound, the answer is usually that it can sound as good as its best Codec. This isn’t an article about Codecs, but as a refresher, aptX adpative can deliver a 24 bit depth and 48kHz sample rate and has a dynamic bit rate of 279 – 420 kbps, which is entirely adequate for hifi audio quality (for those upset at me for saying this, please read: Nyquist Theorem). These specs surpass Tidal’s master quality. If you’re finding differences in audio quality, its best for you to look at your Codec rather than the UTWS5 specifically. Perhaps its worth an upgrade if you’re using a device that relies on AAC, which has reduced bit depth, sample rate, and more latency than aptX adaptive.
While the I can say that the volume went nice and loud thanks to the UTWS5, I could detect no noticeable difference in sonic character, which is exactly what I want from a bluetooth adapter. Let my headphones add the additional character; I just need something that’s reliable.
The UTWS5 from FiiO is a sweet little piece that can do exactly what you want it to bdo. I have a lot of respect for a piece of audio equipment that has a simple but important purpose that it executes exactly as intended. In this case, the UTWS5 does just that with a Bluetooth signal that is as solid as its high quality and up to date codec compatibility. Looking to turn some of your favorite IEM’s wireless without having to worry about lossy quality and constant interruptions? The UTWS5 is quite a worthy consideration.