There have not been many true wireless adapters for IEMs, but the ones that have come out have all been useful. The last ones that I got to review were the Shure Secure Fit adapters which I really enjoyed. At their best, these true wireless adapters can offer a more personalized experience for your IEMs, and Fiio is one of the biggest names for that. One of their latest releases is the UTWS5, a continuation of their wireless adapter line for IEMs. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things already, but let’s see if these adapters can impress.
What You Get
The packaging setup for the UTWS5 is pretty simple. You get the wireless adapters in either MMCX or 2-pin inside a sleek black charging case. It’s pretty standard fare, but it should be noted that every box will have the MMCX version on the cover of the box even if the one you bought is the 2-pin version. You will also get a quick start guide that will tell you important information like how to pair the device, and what the different controls do.
Look and Feel
These adapters are small and simple, with a sleek design that makes them easy to wear. The actual receiver part of the UTWS5 is about half the size of my finger, making pressing the buttons on the device feel a lot more natural to use. Their rubber loop is tight, but the end parts do jut out a bit and move around a little too much while on the move.
Design and Functionality
Inside of the UTWS5 is an AK4332 DAC, with a flagship Bluetooth chipset from Qualcomm. This QCC5141 chip supports high-resolution decoding and an aptX voice CODEC that helps call clarity and aptX adaptive for low latency. As for the controls, the UTWS5 uses traditional buttons for playback options. These actions are very responsive but the feedback noise that lets you know the function has registered is like a high-pitched squeal. The Fiio Control app is also fully functional with the UTWS5, opening your IEMs up to a ton of features except for the in-app EQ, which is quite disappointing.
The UTWS5 supports Bluetooth 5.2 for high range and bandwidth. I experienced a few instances of dropout but it didn’t happen often enough to really deter me from my experience.
You should be able to get eight hours of playtime off a single charge. Adding in the charging case and it should total 30 hours, which is pretty sizable for the price.
There are always going to be a few caveats when converting your wired IEMs to Bluetooth. You can consider it sort of a downscale, but there is a lot to enjoy with Fiio’s latest effort. The UTWS5 makes its best effort to retain the fidelity of your IEMs while squeezing through its range of CODECs. I think the biggest change here is the appearance of the soundstage, which feels a bit more closed in than usual. This was especially apparent when using the Kinera Skuld and ThieAudio Elixir, which both have wide stages and sizable imaging potential. On the UTWS5, it seems like there is a stricter limit on how far the sound can expand, with the sound not featuring as much dimension or depth as with a cable. However, it thankfully doesn’t deteriorate the sound signature of the IEMs too significantly.
The power these adapters can bring really helps hide the more linear portrayal of the soundstage, granting you a good surface level of fullness that makes each track sound complete. From left to right, the IEMs still offers great accuracy and even some width. It sticks to a large stereo field that still sucks you in with its grander elements. Tonally, the frequency response helps the individual details actually stick out a bit more. I didn’t even realize how much headroom I had for gain until well into my listening time with the UTWS5. Reaching a comfortable volume is almost instantaneous, and you feel like you’re getting everything you possibly can with the loudness not even reaching halfway on your iPhone. Structurally, the performance shown here is up there with some of the best as far as wireless IEM adapters are concerned.
When it comes to resolution and amplification, the UTWS5 are the best true wireless adapters you can get for your IEMs. Call clarity and battery life are also notable highlights here, however, I’m not sure why EQ isn’t usable on these devices as I thought it would make the experience that much better. For $139 there isn’t much you can really complain about though, as the sound quality will come first with the UTWS5.
The Fiio UTWS5 is available at Audio46.
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