I’m considering a Bluetooth DAC/Amp like the ES100 and the FiiO BTR series. Any advice on the choices here?
I can’t give you any advice on them at the moment … but based on the question I just ordered the ES100 and the BTR3 so I can compare them. It’d be nice to have a compact, LDAC-compliant, Bluetooth adapter for use on the go …
Nominally I am inclined to suspect the FiiO will have better performance, which is based on nothing more than actually having heard of them. But the balanced-drive capability of the ES100 is intriguing enough to make it worth checking out.
I suspect output power will be the deal killer with these units … very likely more than ample for IEMs, and probably not nearly where I’d want it for anything else, but we’ll see …
I’ve owned the ES100 and the BTR1. I still have the ES100.
The ES100 is easily my recommendation, though the new Fiio ones do have similar feature-set.
That said, the ES100 for me is wonderful. It has balanced and unbalanced connections, every BT codec, and works as a USB DAC if needed. The app is really well designed and full-featured including Equalizer and Crossfeed editing , and has enough power to use my hungriest headphones on balanced.
It’s a huge surprise from a pretty much no-name company. It also sounds very nice. The company has also been extremely receptive to feedback and criticism and have made every effort to update their firmware and app to requests.
I wrote a very schilling review here: https://www.antdroid.net/2018/09/radsone-earstudio-es100-little.html
But it’s because I think this little gem is worth every penny.
I’ve read that the ES100 can drive up to 600 ohms while the FiiO is limited to 100.
Another neat Bluetooth toy to consider is the TRN BT20. These are for detachable IEMs. They lack AptX and LDAC support but they do have AAC support IIRC. The big benefit for these is that they are fully wireless and have very long battery life to boot. I’ve been quite happy with these as well for walking around and doing work around the house while using my IEMs.
The interesting question there is how much power is available for a given load.
Some digging reveals that the FiiO BTR3 can deliver 33mw into 16 ohms, and the ES100 can do 40mw into 16 ohms (single ended) and 160mw into 16 ohms (balanced). That latter figure doesn’t make much sense, but the ES100 is clearly more powerful.
Which means that, personally, I wouldn’t pair either one of them with anything at 300 ohms, let alone 600. But that’s me.
Radsone has published a lot of interesting papers on their amp design and their patents. It’s their data though, so you have to take it with whatever grain of salt is needed.
They also published lab results between the BTR3 and the ES100
I’m having trouble making sense of their numbers. Into a 300 ohm load, they claim max power of 129mW at 1 Vrms. Problem is, 1V into 300 ohm dissipates only about 4mW, so something doesn’t seem to add up.
I PM’d WS Lee from Radsone and got this response:
Thanks for your kind feedback.
As you pointed out,
we’ve found the error in the document that the absolute output power to 300-ohm load has been calculated with 8-ohm load reference.
Please ignore and output power reference in the document.
However, the other values including the output voltage and THD+N are all good and correct.
The document is to provide the comparison result between BTR3 and ES100.
We’ve been requested from many users for the comparison and found that BTR3 has the most common design flaw.
We’ll revise the document shortly.
Thanks once again for point out the error.
Happy new year!
That explains it! So in practice this would top out at little below 105dB SPL on an HD650.
latest ES100 app update just added more EQ displays/options like Q factor settings and 48Khz USB option.
The ES100 is like a Tesla. It keeps getting better with each update.
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