Pros: Durable – Offers good all-around protection – Buttons still easy to interact with
Cons: Blocks the microphone – Type-C port is not immediately accessible – No clip option
Today we’re checking out a handy dandy protective case for the FiiO BTR3K from the good folks at DDHiFi.
Since 2017 DDHiFi has been been working hard to establish themselves as the go-to brand for portable audio accessories, be they a wide variety of 90 degree angled adapters, large carrying cases, FiiO specific accessories, cables, and much more. I’ve been following the brand through a number of popular reviewers and now have the chance to cover a few of their products. I figured we’d start with the C-B3K since the BTR3K has become my go-to device since reviewing it back in May of this year. It is small and powerful with a good feature set, but the smart-phone style build of glass and aluminum had me wanting for something a bit more protective than the plastic case/clip combo unit FiiO included in the box. Enter the C-B3K.
Made from a synthetic PU leather, the C-B3K forms a durable skin that the BTR3K neatly slides into through an opening in the top of the case. Unlike similar cases I’ve used for other devices in the past, it’s not hard to remove the BTR3K if needed. Just flip back the magnetically sealed flap that holds it in place, then give a slight push against the opening for the 2.5mm and 3.5mm jacks and out it slides no problemo. Build quality seems quite good with neatly cut elements, tidy stitching, and a rubberized coating applied around all edges that keeps the look clean and prevents any fraying or rough edges.
The C-B3K fully protects the BTR3K since it wraps around the sides, back, and corners. The jacks are left open of course, for if they were not it would be quite the challenge to actually listen to your music. The opening is large and accommodates most jacks without issue, though there are a few poorly designed (imo) options that play less nicely with the C-B3K. Hidizs’ MS1 – Rainbow and the TFZ King Pro come to mind. Both use a very wide, squat plug that sits almost flush with the BTR3K. The C-B3K touches the plug and after a while, will pop them just far enough out of place to cut sound from one side. Making the opening a little wider on the 3.5mm side would accommodate this style of jack. There is already plenty of space around the balanced 2.5mm output.
Down the left side of the case you find a single small hole cut in near the top. The intention is to be used with 3rd party lanyards. I’m glad they thought of this because there is no way to add a clip to the C-B3K. Down the right side are outlines under which the BTR3K’s various controls lay. I was expecting the lack of cutouts for the buttons to be somewhat awkward, but it actually works really well. I’ve had no issues hitting what I intended without looking, despite there being no real physical indicator as to where each button is. Maybe it’s because I’m already very accustomed to the BTR3K’s button layout, but either way the case did nothing to make it a less ergonomic device. That said, not all functionality is retained with the case on.
First off, the in-built microphone located between the power and multifunction buttons did not receive a cutout to allow sound in. While you can still use the BTR3K for phone calls with the C-B3K installed, call quality suffers, particularly in noisy areas. The magnetic flap that holds the BTR3K inside is also lacking a cutout to accommodate a Type-C cable. If you want to plug it in to charge or use the USB DAC/amp function, you need to take it out of the case or leave the flap awkwardly flipped back. Adding these two tiny cutouts would bring back all the standard functionality of the BTR3K without significantly altering the otherwise excellent design and functionality of the C-B3K.
Overall I’m enjoying using the C-B3K. While there are a few adjustments that could be made to make it slightly more user friendly and accommodating of the BTR3K’s functions (ie. cutouts for the mic and Type-C port), it’s not really something that gets in the way. These mild inconvenience are also forgivable for the additional protection from drops and general absentmindedness it provides over the stock plastic clip case FiiO provides. I also appreciate that DDHiFi kept it affordable. This is the only case of it’s type for the BTR3K that I’ve been able to find, and they could have easily jacked up the price to take advantage of this.
Soooo… if you want to better protect your BTR3K, at the time of writing it’s your only option, but it also happens to be a good one. Worth the low cost of entry for sure.
Thanks for reading!
Disclaimer A big thanks to Lily with DDHiFi for reaching out to see if I would be interested in covering some of their products, and for ensuring they arrived during these challenging times where shipping into Canada is slow and unreliable. The thoughts within this review are my subjective opinions based on time spent using the C-B3K. They do not represent DDHiFi or any other entity. At the time of writing the C-B3K was retailing for 23.59 CAD. You can check it out here on their home site or their AliExpress store: https://www.ddhifi.com/productinfo/103533.html / www.aliexpress.com/item/4000988622030.html