Features and functions
With Qualcomm’s QCC3030 Bluetooth 5.0 chip inside each earpiece, the FiiO UTWS1 supports Qualcomm’s ‘CD-quality’ AptX codec, along with standard AAC and SBC. I consider it a missed opportunity not to include support for AptX-HD and LDAC, though doing so would likely have resulted in significantly higher power consumption and licensing fees.
As an aside, this codec limitation isn’t unique to FiiO, but rather a marker on where we are with true wireless technology. Even Sony’s own true wireless IEMs don’t support LDAC – in fact they don’t even support AptX. That said, Bluetooth codecs are just one variable in the sound quality equation.
The UTWS1 works like most other true wireless systems in that each earpiece functions independently, but ‘syncs’ with the other earpiece when both are active, hence the ‘true wireless’ designation. The entire system works using low-powered and very efficient Bluetooth transmission, so despite the name, there’s no Wi-Fi involved.
Since they work independently, you can use the UTWS1 earpieces like you would any other single receiver walk-and-talk earpiece, the microphone and push button giving you call answer functionality when connected to a smartphone. Or sync them up for the full stereo experience, even with calls.
While not strictly part of this review, I tested the call quality while connected to my phone, and found it to be excellent, perhaps a factor of the noise cancelling features of the Qualcomm chip. The incoming call also paused and resumed the music I was playing, which is handy.
Pairing the earpieces was as simple as holding down the button on an earpiece for five seconds until the small LED light starts flashing red and blue, at which time it should appear on your device’s available Bluetooth list. Once paired with your phone or DAP, power up the other earpiece and it will automatically ask to be paired with your device. Once that’s done, both earpieces will be paired and ready to play.
The button on each earpiece is programmed to perform numerous functions: click once on the left and right to lower and raise the volume, twice on the right to pause/play the music, hold down the left for two seconds for previous track and right for next track, and hold down for three seconds to power off. For some reason I couldn’t answer a call by using the button on either side, nor pause/play the music by double-clicking the right earpiece, so perhaps these features aren’t universal and depend on your source device.
Lastly, should you want to take your listening outdoors, the earpieces have a nano coating that supposedly protects them from splashes and sweat, which makes them great for taking along for a run or to the gym. Forgive me for not putting this to the test with the U12t, though!
The real test is how it performs with music. That’s next…