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Hilidac Audirect Beam 2 DAC/AMP – MQA Blues Got Me Singing’

Hilidac Audirect Beam 2 DAC/AMP – MQA Blues Got Me Singing’

 

 

You heard about Hilidac’s Audirect Beam, Whistle, and Atom PRO, now it is time for the second beam of enlightenment, Beam 2, with MQA and Hi-Res support, and priced at 100 USD, and which will be compared to FiiO BTR5 2021 (130 USD), iFi Hip DAC (150 USD), and Tempotec E35 Sonata (80 USD). 

 


 

 

 

Introduction

 

Hilidac / Audirect is a maker of portable DAC/AMps, and since this is their main product, they actually managed to refine it quite a bit, and now are offering some of the best DAC/AMPs I’ve seen and heard to this date. Beam 2 is the culmination of their work, and it is one of the more affordable DAC/AMPs that has MQA abilities, plus, it comes with the largest number of cables I’ve seen in a DAC/AMp at this date. The company is reliable, but I recommend purchasing their products from Amazon if you can, as you’ll have quicker and more reliable warranty that won’t imply having to ship anything to China, if anything is to happen. 

 

It should be noted that I have absolutely no affiliation with Hilidac or Audirect. I’d like to thank Audirect for providing the sample for this review. This review reflects my personal experience with Hilidac Audirect Beam 2. Every opinion expressed is mine and I stand by it. The purpose of this review is to help those interested in Hilidac Audirect Beam 2 find their next music companion. 

 

 

 

Product Link

 

You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3GxOKo3

 

If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/3Ctd7AK

 

And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3mratGa

 

 

 

Packaging

 

First things first, let’s get the packaging out of the way:

 

 

 

We receive everything in a new package with Beam 2, and it comes with three short USB cables for using it, but no case.

 

 

The three USB cables allow you to use Beam 2 with a normal Pc computer, a smartphone, and even an iPhone, being the most complete DAC/AMP I in terms of cables in this price range.

 

 

 

 

Since Apple iPhones do not have a headphone jack, I always appreciate the company offering lighting cables when they do. 

 

 

 

Build Quality/Aesthetics/Functionality

 

With a brilliant Blue color (other options available as well), Beam 2 is one of the best looking DAC/AMPs out there, especially if you have a blue smartphone like the Huawei I used for today’s review. You can also detach the cable from Beam 2, and it has both Single Ended and Balanced Outputs. 

 

 

We’re actually looking at a badass DAC/AMp here, with Beam 2 having 145mW at 32 OHMs in balanced mode, and 110 mW at 32 OHMs in Single Ended mode. The THD rating is at 0.0003%, which should be good enough for most folks. The DAC supporting all of this is the ESS ES9281C PRO. 

 

 

This DAC allows you to stream both MQA music, as well as PCM in High Resolution, up to 384kHz, and DSD up to DSD128. This should cover the usage scenario for most folks, and while the company calls it a Headphone Amplifier in most marketing materials, it is a DAC/AMP, but they went ahead and called it an AMP as it has a good amount of driving power. 

 

 

Speaking of which, you should be okay driving most IEMs, and most portable headphones, except for hard to drive planar magnetic headphones with Beam 2. I tested and successfully driven the Sivga Phoenix, Sivga P2, Avantone Pro Planar, Campfire Ara and Moondrop Illumination with Beam2. 

 

 

 

Sound Quality

 

Since most of the talk about Beam 2 will be in the Sound Quality part of today’s review, I want to start by saying that the fairly good driving power comes at the cost of it drawing some extra juice from your source. While computers and laptops won’t bat an eye at it, for a smartphone, Beam 2 will be on the more power-hungry end of the spectrum. I found that using it single ended or balanced doesn’t make a big change in how much power it drains, but it’s driving power is better, and the sound is better over the Balanced output. 

 

 

The overall sound of Beam 2 can be described as really clean, vivid, dynamic, punchy and deep, with no serious roll off in either treble or bass, but with a good amount of detail, and a fairly well-rounded soundstage. IT also has a good amount of instrument separation, and paired with the correct IEMs or headphones, it should bring a lot of fun. You should keep in mind that Beam 2 is neutral in presentation, so it doesn’t emphasize or enhance the lows in any way, so a brighter and neutral IEM will still be neutral through Beam2. It is fairly silent in the background, but with hiss sensitive IEMs, and with all-Ba designs, you will hear a faint hissing in the background. 

 

The bass of Beam 2 is clean, neutral, and natural in speed. It has good extension, and is able to offer a good amount of lows / impact to most IEMs, as well as headphones that are reasonably easy to drive. Beam 2 has a clean presentation in general, which helps a lot with muddy sounding IEMs, or wit IEMs that tend to bloat easily. 

 

 

The midrange is clean, somewhat analytical and clinical, but has great dynamics, and is also fairly vividly presented. Beam 2 has good nuance and good detail, while the midrange is naturally rounded. This means that it is wide as it is deep, but those sizes aren’t uber large, but still, for the price is on the wider side of things. 

 

Beam 2 has a surprisingly clean and open treble, with a good amount of sparkle. It tends to be smoother and more refined if using MQA, and the treble is smoother, warmer and more rolled off over the Single Ended connector, with a better extension and overall clarity over the Balanced connector. The treble has good sparkle, but is not harsh or fatiguing. 

 

 

 

 

 

Comparisons

 

I’ve reviewed a large number of DAC/AMPs from Audirect, and the one we’re looking at today is the most interesting so far, and sonically, the most capable. The price of 100 USD makes it good competition for more expensive and more complex products, like FiiO BTR5, iFi Hip DAC, and the E35 Sonata from Tempotec

 

 

Audirect Beam 2 vs iFi Hip DAC (100 USD vs 150 USD) – I find it funny that I feel compelled to do this comparison, but Beam 2 actually beats the Hip Dac in a few aspects, including dynamic, clarity and the overall detail levels. Hip Dac is quite colored i the sonics, it is warm and thick, smooth, so you’re best with Beam2 if your IEMs are either smooth or warm already, but the overall experience should be better for your with Hip DAC if you’re allergic to brightness and if you want something that’s as smooth and buttery as possible. 

 

Audirect Beam 2 vs Tempotec E35 Sonata (100 USD vs 80 USD) – We also have the magic of Temptoec in this review, because they are the OEM behind some amazing devices out there. The E35 sonata has a design where they have the wire always connected to the DAC/AMP, and it looks a bit better, but Beam 2 should be better in the long run as far as the build quality goes. The overall sonic performance is better on Beam 2 as it has a cleaner, clearer, and more vivid presentation. E35 Sonata is warmer, smoother and thicker. Both have similar driving power and background noise, Beam 2 being slightly more silent when it comes to its background noise. 

 

Audirect Beam 2 vs FiiO BTR5 2021 (100 USD vs 130 USD) – You can totally see more function coming from BTR5, but you can see that most people are using it as a wired DAC/AMP, so at the end of the day all the bluetooth extra function may just not be as relevant to you as it is to some. The sound is more vivid, more open, more dynamic, and has more impact on Beam2, while it is more natural on BTR5, especially in the midrange, thicker. Beam 2 has better driving power, and the two have similar background noise. All in all, the choice here will be about versatility, BTR5 being more versatile, or sonic quality, Beam 2 having a more vivid, more detailed sound with better driving power. Both should satisfy you well if you have a pair of Chifi IEMs, and don’t plan on splurging too much soon on something high-end. 

 

 

 

Value and Conclusion

 

We can say for sure that Beam 2 has a good value, excellent clarity, and an ergonomic build, with a good amount of function. It likes to eat battery like it’s bread and butter, but it spits back some driving power, good dynamics, and control, and it brings you music. 

 

 

At the end of the day, if you’re looking for one of the best DAC/AMPs you can get in the price range, made by a professional Chinese manufacturer, with excellent dynamics, great driving power, a vivid sound, and a nice color, Beam 2 at 100 USD from Audirect / Hilidac is one of the most recommended DAC/AMPs I reviewed to date. 

 

 

 

Product Link

 

You can grab one from www.amazon.com here: https://amzn.to/3GxOKo3

 

If you’re in the UK, you can grab one from www.amazon.co.uk here: https://amzn.to/3Ctd7AK

 

And if you’re from Europe, you can grab one from www.amazon.de here: https://amzn.to/3mratGa

 

 

 



 

 

 

— Please remember to stay safe, and always have fun while listening to music!—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Full Playlist used for this review

 

We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature.  PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality are all revealed by those songs. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music!

 

If you have a dime to spare (donate), it would make my day much brighter, as it would help me improve things around the website and increase the frequency of my posts.

 

Youtube Playlist

 

 

Tidal Playlist

 

https://listen.tidal.com/playlist/64555551-ec3c-4279-ae44-248fdfcf6c4b

 

 

 

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