FIIO LC-BT2 NECKLACE SPORT BLUETOOTH CABLE
BATTERY LIFE: 9/10
THE PLUS: Nice Clear natural sound, Excellent battery life, Good amping power and volume, easy interface, Stable connectivity, LDAC&APTX HD, Silicone neckband
THE SO-SO: Ear Hook can be too tight and lack flexibility for some IEM, neckband a little loose, MMCX connector of average quality
FIIO is creating audio products since 2007. They begin with portable and desktop amplifiers and DAC-AMP like their first E3 portable amp to evolve and create diversify audio products such as DAP, IEM, Headphones and all types of Bluetooth DAC-AMP possible.
When it comes to new technology implementation into Bluetooth devices, they are always the first to launch something different. Lately, I enthusiastically review their excellent flagship Bluetooth DAC-AMP, the BTR5, which deliver high-end sound as well as high power output in super small form factor. This makes me curious about anything acting like a Bluetooth DAC-AMP that uses the same excellent Qualcomm CSR8675 flagship Bluetooth chip which permit to use the highest rated Bluetooth codec like LDac and APTX HD. When I know they create a Neckband Bluetooth cable using this chip as well as an independent AK4331 DAC from Japanese company Asahi Kasei Microdevices (AKM), I have to try it ASAP.
And indeed, I’m happy to have the chance to review the FIIO LC-BT2 today, an 80$ Bluetooth cable DAC-AMP with the type of sound you would expect from a good audio source and very long 25H battery life. The BT2 is the follow up of entry-level FIIO RC-BT that have no dedicated DAC, cannot play Ldac and APTX HD and have a lower battery life of 10H. Saying the BT2 is in another league is an understatement.
This is the first time I test this kind of product, and the reason is simple: no other BT cable look interesting in terms of sound quality. I was waiting for the one using a high-quality DAC, and the LC-BT2 is the first I find. Now, there not just sound quality to judge with this type of product so I will cover everything that needs to be known in this review.
This product can be found for 79.99$ at HIFIGOSTORE.
>Qualcomm Bluetooth Chip, CSR8675
>MMCX or 0.78mm Two Pin Connector Type
>Independent DAC Chip AK4431
>Output Power: 23mW
>Frequency Response Range: 5Hz-40kHz
>Recommended Headphone Impedance: 16 ohms-100 ohms
>Signal to Noise Ratio: 109dB
>Battery Life: Upto 24Hours
>Standby Time: Upto 350Hours
>Charging Slot Type: USB Type C
The LC-BT2 has a rather small body but is fully packed with interesting hardware. It begins with a powerful 360mAh battery that promises enough power to make your IEM play loud as well as long battery life. It uses the latest flagship Qualcomm CS8675 Bluetooth chip in cooperation with high fidelity AK4331 DAC so you can decode high music format as well as using the best Bluetooth coded like Ldac with fast 5.0 Bluetooth signal. It does not have independent amp chi, because the AK4331 has a built-in ground reference amplifier in its chip. As well, you have a high-quality omnidirectional silicon MEMS microphone with 8th generation CVC noise cancelation.
The product presentation is nicely done and very professional, it makes you confident about the seriousness of the product. It comes in a solid black box. With this type of product, I do not expect any extra, and well, FIIO did think about including a rather impressive carrying case of excellent quality, which I applause. This case is designed only for this product. It’s rather big but the neckband BT cable to is rather big, anyway, there enough space in there to put at least 4 pairs of earphones so this can be very useful. Apart from the case, you have a decent quality USB-C to USB charging cable as well as a big manual instruction.
What surprise me first about construction, it’s the size, this is bigger than I think so I tell myself: this is designed for SPORTSMAN, sportspeople are full of muscles, so they have thick muscular neck too! I do not have a big neck as my only sport is listening to music while walking, sometimes exercising my arms from drawing sessions and piano playing and I just rarely muscle my neck when I do ornithology or observe a chemtrail with great anxiety. So, body builders out there don’t be afraid, this neckband is large enough for oversized neck too! About this neckband, it’s all made of flexible silicone, which is very comfortable, with 2 weightier plastic part that form an arc. So, construction is about half plastic, half silicon. The buttons are made of silicone too, so it can be waterproof as well. Plastic part is thick enough to endure shocks. The cable is made of thick rubber, while they look sturdy enough, its the part that worries the most because of bent stress it will have repeatedly. Unlike other Neckband BT cable that has the cable coming from the front of the neckband, FIIO chooses to make it a rear outlet design, which is a good choice for comfort but I cannot say for durability. The preshaped ear hook is rather a thigh and it has a curved plastic end too, which will perhaps make it not fitting all type of IEM, I think it’s thought for universal custom earphones, like FIIO FA and FH series. This is important to know the ear hook makes it problematic for particular IEM that aren’t designed for over-ear fit. Finally, the device isn’t very weighty, but we still feel it’s the weight if we aren’t a bodybuilder. All in all, good construction and quite comfortable too.
COMFORT, as say, is very good, especially due to smooth silicon neckband that creates no discomfort or unwanted pressure. The only drawback about comfort is the pre-shaped ear hook that aren’t enough flexible and loose and is too curved so it makes it less versatile for IEM pairing. This ear hook tends to curve under my ears and while it does not hurt the auricular lobule it pushes on it in a distracting way. This is due to the fact I have big ears, but if this BT cable is made for big neck…it should be made for big ears too I guess. So yeah, ear hook is too tight.
I was worry about a not enough user-friendly interface and can confirm as a newby that it’s very intuitive and reactive and way better than TWS IEM control. Everything is controlled from the left side and even if I’m right-handed, it’s super easy to use. You have 4 buttons with reactive pressure click, they will control everything from volume to tracks changing, to play-pause, to phone call-google assistant. It’s either one or two pressing (for volume and tracks changing) and fast press-long press-two pressing (for play-pause, pairing and google assistant). I never encounter control issue or confusion, everything works perfectly.
Again, it gets paired the first time easily by my phone, and second time automatically when I open the BT2. A voice will tell you: connected. I connect it to my laptop and my two android phones without any issue.
SIGNAL is impressively clear and stable, free of any clipping, distortion or volume issue. In terms of distance, it’s the same old same as always, it can easily go up to 10 meters but if you have walls or other obstacles it can interfere with the signal stability.
I’m always worried about the loudness of Bluetooth or TWS IEM, as I listen to music quite loud I tend to be always underwhelmed by amping power. Not only the amping will make your earphones playing loud enough but it will permit it to push it’s dynamic range properly, especially in the bass and upper treble region. Well, with 23mW@32ohm, the BT2 drive easily most of any IEM out there, with the exception of the one with very low sensitivity and high impedance perhaps. As well, its signal to noise ratio is quite respectable at 109db, so yes, for once, this BT cable can drive at full potential your beloved IEM and transform it into BT ones. I can drive properly the FINAL AUDIO B1 that has a very low 93db of sensitivity, as well, on the opposite, I can drive the very sensible to hiss AUDIOSENSE T800 without unbalance or distortion in the sound. Here I don’t talk about pushing at max volume to get super loud result, the BT2 really have plenty of power for 99% of IEM.
This Bluetooth neckband cable looks like to have infinite battery life… I mean…when a battery life can go up to 24H, it’s hard to factually check it, but I know I listen to this for at least 18H before I have to charge it. Charging was less than 2H. Now, after 6H of use, I check the FIIO app for battery level and it says, hum, 100%. I’m not sure it’s accurate, but what is certainly true is that this Bluetooth device has a very long battery life that surpasses surely any TWS IEM. This is particularly mindblowing due to the fact it use high bitrate coded like Ldac and can play at a very high volume for 99% of IEM.
Simply put, the LC-BT2 permits you to finally have audiophile sounding Bluetooth IEM, so, the better they are better will be the sound. As well, low impedance and high sensitivity IEM will sound more dynamic and open, showing the true nature of BT2. The AKM AK4331 DAC is excellent and has very low harmonic distortion and a very black noise floor for a Bluetooth device. This delivers a clean well-articulated sound, near-perfectly flat, slightly warm with perhaps some bass coloring and upper treble taming.
SOUNDSTAGE tend to gain in deepness with most IEM I use, this is probably due to very clean sound as well as high resolution. This tends to deliver precise IMAGING that never sounds cold or particularly analytical.
TIMBRE is smooth and well rounded while the Tonality is between warm and cold and very realist.
BASS isn’t what I would call completely flat, it has some extra thumping energy and roundness, but just before the lower sub-region so it does not sound really colored and just add extra control to overly bassy earphones or punch to the one that lacks it. It’s very subtle.
MIDS is clear, slightly warm, with wide presentation and natural tonality. The vocal gain in lush presence and tends to become less intimate with some IEM.
TREBLE isn’t particularly sharp or vivid, rather flat and very well balanced with the rest of the spectrum. Unlike some colder DAC implementation, like the Xduoo X20 for example, it does not sound cold or analytical which can lead to metallic or sizzle highs. Without sounding hollow, the highs are a little roll-off on top around 15khz, so, no extra brilliance or secret micro details are reveals.
With DUNU DK2001
These 2 were meant to be together and make the perfect couple for a lush, lively musicality I don’t even find with pricier pairing. The DK-2001 is easy ton drive but can sound overly unbalanced in the bass region and too warm with most of my DAP or DAC-AMP. With the BT2 it gains extra control in the bass region as if mid-bass bleed suddenly cancels, this gives an airier sound wich expend the soundstage deepness. Tonality is still warm but gains in definition edge and dynamic impact feel higher. Mids sound clearer, little less thick which improves imaging too. TREBLE is still rather relaxed, but a little more crunchy and snappy. The whole sound of DK-2001 became better articulated and more energic.
With the TINHIFI P1
These extremely hard to drive Planar IEM do not pass the 23mW power output test and even at full volume, the dynamic feel congested. Soundstage does not open enough, bass wich was already shy is now dry and lifeless, mids are flat and very intimate and treble sound unbalanced and grainy. It’s simple, the BT2 just can drive them properly, and this is not it’s fault as I need to use 1000mW Xduoo XD-05Plus amp to drive the P1 properly.
With SENFER DT6
These aren’t the easiest to drive IEM and now the BT2 show it can drive a wide range of IEM including a budget hybrid piezo iem. The result is very very good, vivid, fast in transient and ultra-clear. The low harmonic distortion of BT2 is well shown with this IEM, the background being completely silent. SOUNDSTAGE gain some deepness and wideness and lose some tallness. BASS is better-controled which permits mids to shine more. Imaging feels improved too while losing some brightness and texture. Treble sound more balanced, have little less decay. Very addictive pairing, and very budget too.
With FINAL AUDIO B1
At 94db of sensitivity, the B1 aren’t that easy to drive, but I’m impress to confirm the BT2 drive them properly. Soundstage keeps its normal wideness and deepness, with a little more airy feel, Imaging is very clear too. TIMBRE feels a little more bright and textured. BASS is less sloppy and does not extend as low in sub-region than with a more powerful audio source. MIDS are slightly thinner, gain in clarity and separation but loose in lushness. TREBLE sound more lively and articulated, less brilliant and crisp. All in all, while it’s driven properly, this isn’t the best pairing for capricious B1.
VS XDUOO XQ25 (50$)
Tough the XQ25 can play slightly louder with its32mW@32ohm load and higher SNR level, it does not extend as well the dynamic range and make the overall sound more intimate. The Sabre DAC it use tend to have a brighter tonality too. BASS is roll-off in sub-region while having good body and extension with the BT2, it’s slightly more mid-bass-centric and textured too. MIDS sound flatter and more intimate, the BT2 offer wider presence to vocal and more immersive musicality with good layering. TREBLE feels a little boosted with XQ25 and colder, grainier too, while it’s smooth and well-articulated with the BT2.
All in all, I prefer the fuller and more musical sound of BT2.
VS EARSTUDIO ES100 (100$)
Again, this isn’t a neckband BT cable, so, for the price, the ES100 is more fully packed and deliver way more powerful output in both balanced and single-ended output. The overall sound of ES100 is more vivid and analytical with better transparency. BASS sound flatter and more textured and win in separation from low to mid which perhaps confirm BT2 has slight sub-bass boost (to compensate lack of amping power?). The overall resolution of mids is better with ES100, but it sounds less thick in timbre and more intimate with vocal, being very well separated and centered but not as smooth and natural as BT2. TREBLE is notably more informative with the ES100 and dig secret micro details you will not find with the BT2, this treble does add brightness to overall sound making the ES100 a little more artificial in tonality, or too realistic, it depends how you see it.
All in all, the ES100 is unbeatable in value and can do a similar job than the BT2, but you need to buy a small cable and the interface would not be as nice as the BT2.
I was rather skeptical about the sound benefit of this kind of Bluetooth device because even if I know the AK4331 DAC is good, I was afraid either the volume will not be enough loud or the battery life underwhelming.
I can humbly admit I was wrong and that both volume and battery life extend far above my expectations.
The FIIO LC BT2 is a game-changer in the neckband Bluetooth cable world, for once you can really have high sound quality that was only possible to find in great entry-level DAP or DAC-AMP. Having the luxury to transform any of your favorite IEM into excellent Bluetooth IEM is something that wasn’t imaginable some time ago, and the few tentative that has been made was underwhelming in term of sound quality or amping power.
Either your a sportsman, bodybuilder or street wonderer that searches for versatile portable Bluetooth neckband cable, the FIIO LC BT2 will never let you down with its long battery life, comfortable silicone neckband, good amping power and very good sound quality.