FiiO UTWS3 Review
Ditch the cables and transform your earphones to TWS
Pros: – Good sound quality
– TWS +
– Charging case
– Good battery life
– Great fit
– Snug connectors
– IPX4 rating
– Independent volume control
Cons: – Bulky charging case
– No aptX HD or LDAC
The UTWS3 sample was kindly provided by FiiO and is still under their ownership
The review reflects my own personal , honest and subjective opinion.
You can get it from FiiO.eu
The FiiO UTWS3 is a True Wireless plus (TWS+) bluetooth adapter with a built in amplifier that can be connected to most earphones that come with a detachable cable system.
It is offered in two variants with MMCX or 2 pin (0.78mm) connectors. The earphone we would like to use should be compatible with the “cable around the ear” wearing style.
The only thing we have to do is to plug that earphone into the UTWS3 and we have at our hands the wireless version of it.
The UTWS3 is a great idea because instead of buying a new pair of wireless earphones we can just use our beloved ones or a second forgotten pair that doesn’t get much daily use and can act as a second wireless pair.
The UTWS3 isn’t exactly a new product but it is a heavily upgraded version of a previous model named UTWS1.
You can find very interesting information about the birth of the UTWS1 project here
We have to point here that FiiO listened carefully to customer feedback and successfully addressed all the drawbacks of the previous model.
Technical and physical parameters.
The UTWS3 features the TWS+ dual transmission technology so there is no primary and secondary ear unit.
Both units are primary with an independent circuit inside and directly connected to the bluetooth device.
This means that each unit can be used to answer calls with an upgraded performance with lower latency and more stable operation.
The Qualcomm bluetooth 5.0 QCC3020 chipset is used to carry wireless transmission and digital conversion duties with aptX support.
The most important feature of the UTWS3 is the use of an independent headphone amplifier namely the TPA6140A2 rather than relying on the embedded amplifier of the QCC3020.
As such we get reduced distortion and greatly increased output power in order to drive more difficult loads.
It also has an analog volume adjustment system of 26 levels that is completely separated from that of the bluetooth device.
The UTWS3 can provide 38mW into 16Ω loads and 25mW into 32Ω with a noise floor less than 8uV.
Another much welcomed feature is the use of a charging case.
Now both ear pieces together with the attached earphones are stored and charged inside the carrying case.
With an 800mAh battery the case can provide up to 30 hours of extra use.
Each ear piece has a battery life of about 6-7 hours in TWS+ mode or 4-5 hours in single mode and can be charged about 4-5 extra times inside the case.
The shape of the ear piece is also improved with a more anatomical and comfortable design.
Better quality plastic is used and build quality is very good with a luxurious touch to it.
The ear hooks are metal memory type and can be adjusted to stay secure.
Even the internal wiring is upgraded with high purity monocrystalline silver plated copper.
The new UTWS3 is water resistant with IPX4 rating and the weight is 6.5g per each ear unit without the earphones.
Fit and use.
The UTWS3 is like a hearing aid device and it is fitted accordingly.
The body itself is very slim and slick and it wraps around the ear aided by the memory ear hooks.
The ear hooks do not interfere with the outer ear so we managed to get deep insertion with all the earphones we used.
It is very comfortable without causing any distress even after prolonged use and the actual fit depends on the earphones used.
The charging case layout is pretty simple with three small LEDs at the front and the micro USB port at the back.
The left and right LEDs indicate whether the two earpieces are charging and the central one is reserved for the case battery status.
Inside the box under the lid is a small multifunction button.
When we open the case both earpieces will automatically enter pairing status.
Once we get the earpieces out of the case the pairing with the last device is done instantly.
We can use one earpiece for call duties or both to listen to music.
Each ear piece has one small round control button.
Thankfully it is a press and click system with cleverly designed and tactile feedback.
We are great fans of such control systems because with the touch ones we always get unnecessarily and accidental clicks.
The control system is easy and plain with a small learning curve.
We cannot assign our own custom actions but instead we have to rely on the three different predefined layouts that are available through the FiiO Control app.
During our listening tests we never experienced any drop outs or disconnections.
We haven’t tested maximum distance but inside the office we didn’t encounter any problems.
Call quality is excellent both for us and the caller thanks to the dual microphones.
Call , ring and music volumes can be independently adjusted from the FiiO Control app.
The FiiO Control app can display battery status and offer further customization and adjustments.
There is a custom equalizer available and a full manual but the best part is that we can wirelessly upgrade the firmware.
The procedure is available to Android users only and it is a fairly simple one.
We have to manually check if there is a new firmware available and then we can apply it over the air.
The procedure must be performed two times because each earpiece is an independent device.
We have successfully updated to version 0.2.46.
We have tested the UTWS3 with FiiO FH3 and FA9 and Final Audio B3.
The MMCX plugs fit snug and stay secure.
With the above mentioned earphones noise floor was very low and couldn’t be heard.
The sound quality is surprisingly good and the overall performance is held back only by the lack of aptX HD and LDAC support.
Let’s start with the power output which is more than enough to drive all the usual earphones to very loud levels without a hint of distortion.
The overall sound signature is quite neutral with good extension to both ends.
Bass is full sounding with great dynamics reaching low enough with good control and layering.
It can handle complex passages with drive and pace and never sounded one note.
Mids are balanced and clear with a rounded tone to them and a natural overall timbre.
It is at the higher registers where the limitations of the aptX become apparent holding the performance back.
There is a certain lack of fidelity that translates into a slightly harsh and bright treble.
Tonality is still good but there is a loss of body and notes become lean and edged.
But this is an issue not specific to the UTWS3 itself but rather a limitation of the bluetooth technology.
AptX HD and LDAC codecs help to mitigate the issue a little but still there is a certain lack of fidelity.
Cable is always better but we are willing to sacrifice a piece of sound quality for the ease of use.
Anyway we are nitpicking here because the UTWS3 isn’t designed to be a critical listening machine but rather a every day listening companion on the go and as that it sounds excellent.
Detail retrieval and overall clarity are very satisfying as is the stage which is horizontally layered but with good clues of instrumental positioning.
We have tested with large scale symphonic works and the outcome was beyond expectations.
At the end.
If you want to convert your detachable earphones to True Wireless the FiiO UTWS3 is the obvious choice.
It offers great sound quality with hassle free and easy operation plus an extended battery life thanks for the new charging case.
For just $79.99 it is a no brainer and very highly recommended.
The test playlist – http://open.qobuz.com/playlist/5669033
Copyright – Laskis Petros 2021.