Audirect BEAM dac/amp review - expatinjapan


Audirect BEAM dac/amp review
 - expatinjapan


The supaa smexy streamlined Audirect BEAM is the latest in the series from relatively new company Audirect,
It is available in Gold or Black and light as a feather. 
They had previously released the Audirect Whistle which was reviewed at an earlier date here on Head pie:  https://www.headpie.net/2017/08/audirect-whistle-dacamp-review.html


Unboxing






The Beam comes with a healthy array of quality cables.



Volume switch, push in for play/pause. LED lights for PCM and DSD.




Beam Portable Hi-Fi DAC Earphone Amplifier

Beam  Specifications

Using the critically acclaimed ESS patented 32-bit HyperStream® DAC architecture and Time Domain Jitter Eliminator, the ES9118 delivers up to 125dB SNR and –114dB THD+N, a performance level that will satisfy the most demanding audio enthusiasts.

THD Compensation,Minimize distortion from external PCB components and layout

Specifications

(Output Power) -114dB TND+N, 2Vrms into 600Ω

-108dB THD+N, 49mW into 32Ω
1.1Vrms,up to 1.1Vrms

(Frequency response)20-30000Hz(-0.15dB)
(Distortion)0.0004%
(S/N ratio)+125dB SNR, +120dB DNR
(input supports PCM)PCM 16-32bit, 32-384KHz
(input supports DSD)DoP64, DoP128, Native DSD64/128/256
D/A(D/A Chips)ES9118 SABRE HiFi SoC
I.R. <1Ω
(Amplifier Chips) ES9118
(Input port) USB-C
(Output Port) 3.5mm
(L W H)52x14x6mm
(Weight)12g



Audirect Beam and Whistle specs compared.








Price

The Audirect Beam package (Beam plus cables) is $99 US dollars.

http://www.audirect.cc/buy

The cables can also be bought individually at $11.99 to $14.99 and are of a good quality.



Connectivity

The Audirect Beam is a simple plug and play device with no mess, no fuss.

I had no problems connecting to my aging Macbook Pro and ipod Touch 6G, 
nor to the upcoming Hidizs Ap80.



DSD settings for iOS mobile app.

DSD LED light on. Using Onkyo App on iOS.(Set DOP: DSD over PCM).

Onkyo app on iOS

Sound and summary

The Audirect Beam is solid successor to the previous Whistle (which was no slacker in its own right).
It was a bit difficult to do a full A/B comparison due to the BEAM being USB-C and the Whistle Micro USB which meant I didnt have in my stock a set of identical cables that could be used.
But rest assured in my simple check I did deduce across the board the Beam improved upon the Whistle.

With a solid black background and no detectable hiss to my ears even via my Macbook with Campfire Audio Andromeda makes the Beam an ideal affordable choice for improving upon your computers audio sound.

The sound signature of the Beam is neutral with no strong emphasis on either the lows/mids or highs. Each part performing in an excellent synergy resulting in a pleasing aural experience.
The lows are fast and full and can delve deep, the mids clean and prominent enough to give vocals that realness and emotion, and the treble just reaches over the edge without extending into the dreaded Sabre glare zone.
There is a naturalness within the neutralness, a smoothness to alleviate the crispness.
It even survives the severe Coldplay test.
The Beam has detailing, layering to please and doesnt restrict my earphones that have a wide sound stage (more width and height than depth).

The Andromeda is known for its large sound stage and quietly for its exquisite separation that is delicate and subtle which results in a rich yet not over bearing layering with beautiful texturing, these points are compounded and extended when combined with a dap higher up the chain from mid fi to totl. When combined with the Audirect Beam, a lower priced item the Andromeda still shines and I experienced pleasure when using them in unison.

Depending on the device the Beam is connected to the volume steps at times can be a bit tricky to get the right setting. 
With the Hidizs AP80 there were no problems with its many volume steps.
On my ipod touch there was a slight jump and finding my particular sweet spot at times was difficult. This was made easier by using a music app and dialing back the gain to allow for more room to set the volume. (More volume steps please Apple!).
On the Macbook pro I encountered the same problem (Apple really needs to implement more volume steps for IEM users or any user) this was solved when I used the VOX music player which has more volume steps.

The Beam has the best control at low to upper mid volumes with some IEMs, going beyond what could be users regular listening levels can introduce some loss of coherency or sibilance with some music. But I found this to be a rare occurrence and earphone/track dependent. I listen at fairly loud volumes 75-90db so you`d really have to pump it to have a problem.

It has two LED lights for PCM and DSD.

Nice to have the physical switches for play/pause and volume whilst on the go.

When combined with a dedicated dap such as the upcoming Hidizs AP80 the Audirect Beam really took off. With the IT04 the Beam really shone, a fairly neutral earphone with a bit of low end bass and mids can really complement a Sabre dac. But each to their own tastes.

Also the size, weight and form makes it an attractive option for an on the go dongle: especially with phones who have removed the headphone jack, which some may prefer to the small Dap/dac/amp option such as the popular Shanling M0, or the larger iFi Audio xDSD. Both great performers in their price points which loads of features.

The Beam is deliciously neutral, clean sounding with excellent texture, no grain and exquisite clarity.


Well color me impressed. 


Upcoming Audirect `Bean` earphones sneak peek



Thank you to Audirect for sending the Beam to Head pie for review.


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