Audirect `the Whistle` dac/amp review - expatinjapan

Audirect Whistle and Campfire Audio Jupiter

Audirect `The Whistle` dac/amp review

The Audirect Whistle dac/amp is for use with iOS, Android, PC, Mac and your car.
The DAC chip is ESS9018Q2C and the Amplifier is ES9016

Updated new packaging.

*Audirect has since updated the packaging. Those photos following my unboxing.

The older original packaging.

Cables galore: Micro usb to lightning, micro to micro and a micro to usb-c.

A cable for use in your automobile.

Apple Touch 6G, Audirect Whistle and Simgot EN700 Bass

New packaging

Back in black, paint it black...


The Output impedance is <1ohm which means its friendly with multi driver BA IEMs.

Audirect Whistle with Campfire Audio Andromeda, iBasso CB13 cable 
and Effect Audio Balanced to single end adaptor.


The Audirect Whistle was tested with my ipod Touch 6, 128GB and mainly 16/44 FLAC using the Flacplayer app by Dan Leehr.

*With the Audirect Whistle           

*Headphone jack out only

The Whistle is an affordable DAC/amp with a ES9018Q2C Dac and a ES9016 amplifier so one would hope for noticeable improvements in sound quality over that of an ipod or smartphone and computer...

The vocals are nicely presented, at times a bit forward of the music for my tastes.

Stock cable, vocals forward - sounds fabulous, cymbals and high hats prominent. Sound stage seems to be more forward, vertical and less on the horizontal.Treble seems more prevalent. ESS signature sound.

With the REI cable the music and vocals are more complementary, smoother, the sound stage becomes wider, deeper and more of a sphere shape, instrument separation and placement is greater, the overall experience more deeper and intimate.

The ipod Touch 6G is an excellent dap itself, clear, detailed and with good definition. It lacks a bit of body and can get fatiguing for long periods of listening.
With the addition of the Whistle into the mix it becomes more smoother, the music has more body to it, the low end is more present and fulfilling.
The ipod Touch 6G and the Audirect Whistle share many sound signature similarities.

I found the effect to be more noticeable the higher up the chain I went with various earphones.
As with many of these devices often the difference isn't a night and day or `wow!` factor, more often the effect is incremental and more subtle. A fine tuning of the experience.

I was able to listen at lower volumes with the Whistle rather than have to crank up the volume through the headphone jack to have a decent sonic range.

It did take quite a number of sessions to unravel the Audirect Whistle benefits. At first I wasn't sure what I was and wasn't hearing (coming from TOTL daps), it took a few days listening to confirm what I believed my ears were hearing, and to isolate the various benefits of the device.

The Audirect Whistle tempered the overall experience, giving more body to the music, reduced hiss and added a smoother element to the overall listening experience resulting in less fatigue during longer listening sessions.

*The Whistle new batch will have a better sound quality, because the capacitor at the "COG" level will be improved.

With a laptop

With my Apple Macbook pro I found benefits such as no hiss when using the Whistle, whereas when I used the headphone jack of the Macbook I experienced hiss.

The Macbook pro already reproduces decent a point. The Whistle takes it quite step further in terms of resolution, smoother, more body, greater separation, sound stage is increased and my overall listening experience was certainly more pleasurable. More lively and engaging.

For Macbook I found I didn't need to install any drivers for the Whistle to function.
Windows computers running Windows 10 don't need a driver so I have been told. Windows 7 needs drivers installed.

Using VOX music player for Macbook

Windows drivers

At US$99 it is one of the lowest priced dac/amps out there on the market.
With no need for a CCK for idevices it makes it simple to use.
Its small form and lightweight body means it is easy to carry and use.


The Audirect Whistle is a very affordable DAC/amplifier that can complement many an existing system.

I wish I had an Audioquest Dragonfly (Black) to compare with, as they both retail for the same price. 

One thing that puts the Audirect Whistle in good company (Cozoy REI, CEntrance DACportable to name a couple...) is that it doesn't require an Apple CCK to function.

The Cozoy REI has more smoothness, detail, separation and subtlety, the CEntrance DACportable has more power, detail and low end body. But the price differences are quite wide and distant between them and the Audirect Whistle so that is to be expected.

The Audirect Whistle has that clear,  (slightly) highs focused signature often associated with Sabre Dac devices.
The effect is one of increased clarity and transparency, more noticeable with analytical listening or longer sessions. It is not a strong change in that it does not possess any coloring to be easily heard, but more of its intended aim to clean up, concentrate and contain the musical reproduction.

I think a better lightning cable would improve clarity, detail and overall sonics. When used with the lightning cable that comes with the Cozoy REI the experience improves in thats its smoother and richer. (Yes, yes. I know  its all 1s and 0s and that it shouldn't make a difference....buuuut....).

Red or Black? I chose red so I could find it easier. ;)

Don`t expect to use this with a low end set of earphones and have them magically transformed, I really noticed the Whistles performance with the Andromeda, less so in the budget to just below the mid fi bracket.
(With the ipod touch).

Its hard to say whether its the DAC or the AMP, or the DAC and the Amp combined making the difference. As we know a bit of extra amplification itself can do wonders.

That it eliminated the  hiss (with my macbook) might be a major appeal point for some.
perhaps this might be replicated on other devices also? Smartphones etc...I don't know.

I would have liked to have more variety of sources at my fingers to test the Whistle more, in particular smartphones that have poor quality music playback.. at an uneducated and untested guess the Whistle might help - using my macbook as an example.

Not included is a Micro USB to USB-A cable for use with a computer, but I think we all have a few of those at home.

*The Whistle new batch will have a better sound quality, because the capacitor at the "COG" level will be improved.

Overall the Audirect Whistle comes in at a decent price, my regret is I don`t have the Dragonfly black to compare with. It does produce a pleasing effect in that the music has more body and it adds a fullness to the music, also it gives a smoother and less fatiguing experience.

Thank you to Audirect for sending Head pie the Whistle Dac/amp for review.


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