Audirect Whistle – Affordable, Clear, Fun
Audirect Whistle is the first DAC/AMP we are reviewing from Audirect, and it was quite an interesting one to take a look at, priced at 100 USD. We’ll be comparing it with its direct competitors, and we’ll see whether it is worth its price tag, or if you should seek a DAC/AMP from a different company.
|Audirect Whistle DAC/AMP Unit looks pretty great on our carpet.|
Audirect is a growing company from China, which has been gaining traction for creating affordable DAC/AMP equipment for music lovers, with a good reputation and known for good price/performance ratio. They speak English fairly well.
It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Audirect, I am not receiving any incentive for this review or to sweeten things out. This review is not sponsored nor has been paid for by Audirect or anyone else. I’d like to thank Audirect for providing the sample for the review. The sample was provided along with Audirect’s request for an honest and unbiased review. This review will be as objective as it is humanly possible, and it reflects my personal experience with Audirect Whistle. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it, the purpose of this review is to help those interested in Audirect Whistle find their next music companion.
First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:
Audirect Whistle comes packaged in a small little package, together with a large number of cables for connecting it to other devices. The package is a bit simplistic by design, but it comes with all the accessories you could need and desire for, to enjoy it. There is a cable for iPhone, one for Android Devices, and there is a Type-C Cable as well.
If anything is missing from the package, that is a way to strap the Whistle to a smartphone, as that would have been quite welcome.
What to look in when purchasing an Entry-Level DAC/AMP
We’ll start by saying that the Whistle is not perfect. The build quality is very solid, it is made of metal, but you can see some surplus glue here and there, especially at the top and bottom, and in usage, it gets quite hot, even after a few mere minutes of usage. Even so, the Whistle is quite solid by itself, and it doesn’t tend to fall apart easily. You shouldn’t worry too much about it getting hot, but it is unusually so for a device of its size.
The cables included in the package are of high quality, and they should last you a lifetime, and in all honest, just the cables are worth half the price of the overall package, and even more, given the fact you’re quite likely to use the Whistle with a portable device.
The Whistle does not include any battery, and instead will drain the battery of its source continuously while it is in usage. This isn’t such a bad thing, given that it doesn’t eat quite that much battery.
From our tests, it tends to work with anything we paired it with, but we only tried Windows and Android devices, as we don’t have any iOS devices in our office at the moment. Pairing is simple, it is easily recognized, and it never caused issues.
All in all, we hope that Audirect will improve a bit the build quality and remove more extra glue in their next product, The Beam.
The Sound Quality of Audirect Whistle is generally great, and there is little we wish to change from it. It is basically neutral, with just a tiny touch of warmth, it has a lot of impact and depth, and it provides overall power and volumes better than most smartphones we ever tested, including LG v20.
On the other hand, the sound tends to have more width than depth, similar to other entry-level DAC/AMPs, like HIDIZS Sonada HD DAC.
With most IEMs and easy-to-drive headphones, it is an outstanding source, with a lot of energy and life in it, sounding very dynamic and fun, but it won’t win against something a little more expensive than it, like an iFi xDSD, or even an iFi iNano BL.
Given the fact that it is mostly neutral with a touch of warmth, the bass is slightly elevated, and it has a bit of warmth, compared to something truly neutral, while the treble tends to be a bit smooth, without the sparkle that something truly neutral would have. For 100 USD, the detail and clarity is fairly good, and it tends to provide a clean window to music, but then again, it isn’t very cheap, and something slightly more expensive provides quite a bit more detail.
Interestingly, Audirect Whistle doesn’t have any kind of interference or hiss, which is quite amazing, for something at this price range, being able to drive even sensitive IEMs without adding any hiss. In fact, this is something that many will appreciate, as most smartphones will be inherently more hissy than Audirect Whistle.
All in all, it has a dynamic, fun, vivid and punchy sound, if you’re driving the correct type of headphones and IEMs with it.
The Portable Usage of Audirect Whistle is fairly good, and there’s very little we can complain about, as it is quite easy to carry around, easy to use, and it is easy to pair with anything we tried it with.
It doesn’t have any hiss, it is smaller than a typical cigarette and lighter, and you can easily use one of the cables included for any device you own (at the moment of writing this review).
If anything should cause you discomfort, that is the fact that the unit gets a bit hot, and that, judging from reports from other sites, it doesn’t work quite as well with all iOS devices, but then again, this is something we haven’t tested.
We did a drop test with it, and happily, nothing happened to it, so if it were to fall on the ground, a few scratches are the most that is going to happen to it. All in all, we are giving it a golden rating for its portability.
Please note that for any pairing, the IEM has more impact on the final result than the DAC/AMP. There are many IEMs people will probably be pairing this one with, since it has such a versatile price range, but we’ll try adding some from a similar or compatible price range.
Audirect Whistle + Dunu Falcon-C – This is an interesting one, as Dunu Falcon-C is one of the better IEMs we heard from its price range. Paired with the Whistle, Falcon-C sounds vivid, energetic, lively and quite wide. It has a nice impact to its bass, and regardless of the source, the Whistle can get it louder than most people would listen to it anyways.
Audirect Whistle + FiiO F9Pro – This is another IEM we recommend quite a lot here, due to its nice price point, and neutral sound at an affordable price range, which makes it quite an interesting choice for the budget-oriented audiophile looking for a nice deal. Through and through, F9Pro sounds wide and more happy with the Whistle than most sources, and it seems to tilt F9Pro’s colder signature towards a more happy and warmer tonality, which works fairly well for them.
Audirect Whistle + iBasso IT01 – This is the third IEM we recommend a lot to people looking for a deal at 100 USD, and this is for a good reason, IT-01 is the dream IEM for a budget-oriented warm and bassy music lover. IT01 typically has a really warm bass, and some treble sparkle, with the midrange being pushed back a little. When paired with Audirect Whistle, IT01 has a wider sound than typically, which balances out some of the bass, making it quite a more balanced, and a more enjoyable overall experience.
It is a little complicated to compare the Whistle with other DAC/AMP solutions, mostly because we had more options from higher prices than from 100 USD, but we’ll try our best to be fair with the comparisons.
Audirect Whistle vs Hidizs Sonata HD DAC – This one comparison is not quite that fair, as the Sonata HD DAC is just about 30 USD, but we should consider whether the Whistle is worth the extra money over Sonata HD DAC. Starting with the build quality, the concept behind the two is quite different. While the Whistle will work with any device, Sonata HD DAC will only work with USB Type-C devices, as well as Windows devices with a USB port. The build quality is equally solid between the two, both have nice jacks, and both will take a beating and return to life. The sound is actually quite similar, with both having a wide soundstage, and clear sound, but the Whistle has a touch more detail and depth, along with a bit more overall dynamics, the sound alone isn’t different enough to justify a 3 times increase in price, but we do feel that having the larger device, without a fixed port, and the cables that come with it may justify the price difference for many customers.
Audirect Whistle vs Shanling M0 – This comparison isn’t absolutely fair either, but we feel people may be curious whether they should be getting a dedicated DAP, or the Audirect Whistle. Now, the build quality is great on both, and both devices come with a nice set of accessories, but their usage scenarios is different. If you wanted a DAP, Shanling M0 is absolutely fabulous for 100 USD, but if you want to have Streaming abilities, Shanling M0 just won’t do it, so you’re better off with a dedicated DAC/AMP to connect to your smartphone, like the Whistle. The Whistle can also render the music part of your videos while you’re using your smartphone, while Shanling M0 isn’t able to do that, but the sound is a touch more detailed on the Whistle actually. All in all, they are similar in the sonic signature, and while the Whistle is a touch wider in the soundstage, Shanling M0 has a little edge in the treble reproduction, where it feels slightly more refined.
Value and Conclusion
At the end of the day, we’ve been talking about a DAC/AMP which is sold for 100 USD, which isn’t exactly a little considering the wide number of options on the market at this moment.
Audirect Whistle is well packaged, and half of its asking price could very well go for the cables alone. The package doesn’t include much else besides the unit and the cables though, so you need to be a bit creative on figuring on how to strap the Whistle to your smartphone.
The build quality of the device itself is okay, you can see some extra glue without much searching, but it is made of metal, which helps dissipate heat easily, and it is very strong as an overall device. The jacks are also high-quality, and the whistle looks like it can take a serious beating, and still come back for more.
It will connect with anything we tried it with, Android and Windows, and it works just fine in every scenario it was made for, so we have to give it extra points of Audirect’s software.
The sound is generally very wide, clear, fun, vivid, energetic and clear, mostly linear, with a touch of extra warmth. This means that it will pair well with almost any IEM and Headphone that’s not too hard to drive.
In all honesty, we’re talking about a DAC/AMP which is able to impress any listener with its sonic performance and although it costs a pretty penny, if you’re looking for a simple, nimble, well made, fun and dynamic sounding DAC/AMP, you should add Audirect Whistle to your list, especially if you can listen to one from any friend, as they are not sold officially in many shops (yet!).
Playlist used for this review
While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy.
Bats – Gamma Ray Burst: Second Date
Eskimo Callboy – Frances
Incubus – Summer Romance
Electric Six – Dager! High Voltage
Kishida Cult – High School Of The Dead
Dimmu Borgir – Dimmu Borgir
Breaking Benjamin – I Will Not Bow
Manafest – Impossible
Thousand Foot Krutch – The Flame In All Of Us
Gorillaz – Feel Good Inc.
Infected Mushroom – Song Pong
Doctor P – Bulletproof
Maximum The Hormone – Rock n Roll Chainsaw
Rob Zombie – Werewolf, Baby!
SOAD – Chop Suey
Ken Ashcorp – Absolute Territory
Machinae Supremacy – Need For Steve
Ozzy Osbourne – I Don’t Wanna Stop
Crow’sclaw – Loudness War
Eminem – Rap God
Stromae – Humain À L’eau
Justin Timberlake – Sexy Back
Metallica – Fuel
Veil Of Maya – Unbreakable
Masa Works – Golden Japang
REOL – Luvoratorrrrry
Korn – Word Up!
Papa Roach – … To be Loved
Fever The Ghost – Source
Fall Out Boy – Immortals
Green Day – Know The Enemy
Mindless Self Indulgence – London Bridge
A static Lullaby – Toxic
Royal Republic – Tommy Gun
Astronautalis – The River, The Woods
Skillet – What I Believe