We all didn’t appreciate the loss of the headphone jack on smartphones: that’s a matter of fact, something I personally hate because I wouldn’t ever get rid of useful stuff. But my actual phone lacks that feature, and I’m trying to bear this, searching for the bright side. No, the ability to connect my phone (Mi MIX 2) to my external audio card didn’t help much, because it’s obviously not something I can carry with me. I may have found the answer with the Beam by Audirect (whom I want to thank a lot for the sample). I previously had the opportunity to review the Whistle, so I can underline the differences and similarities.
I point up that this sample was given to me in exchange for the review, and I’m not affiliated with Audirect.
This product is a dongle, but I can assure that calling the Beam that way is a bit of an insult. I’m not biased by the fact that the only way to listen wired music with my phone is through some kind of adapters: the one carried with my smartphone is really good, lightweight, small. But it’s just an average sounding dongle with a discrete but unknown DAC. These from Audirect are DACs and mobile amplifiers. Sounds good to say, but even better to listen to, believe me.

First, I’ve tried the Whistle: it’s good-looking but not so discrete in dimensions. Micro-USB in, 3.5 mm jack out: it works via OTG, so you can look for a different cable with that standard if you don’t like the one supplied. Also, there’s a led indicator for the music quality – it recognizes DSD quality and tunes consequently. Something good and something less for me, speaking of sound. It’s an excellent amplifier, I think that it carries even more pressure than the Beam. But the quality, even though I liked it, it was not perfect. A matter of irony, maybe, but I found it sounding less controlled with a more fun approach.


The Beam, instead, is a product to fall in love with. I must say that’s more than a Whistle evolution. First: it uses a USB Type-C, which is dope. Seriously, as a consumer I’d put much more confidence in a future-proof brand, which Audirect is demonstrating to become. Second: it has Android AND iOS compatible volume controls: this may sound insignificant but it’s a really cool feature.
Think of all that IEMs without in-line controls: the Beam gives you that feature there too! Without touching/unlocking the source, you adjust the volume but acting directly into it. Amazing. Third: it’s much smaller and thinner than the Whistle, giving you a better comfort.
In the box you can find the Beam itself and all the cables you may need: Type-C, Type-A and lightning. Not the Micro-USB one, but I don’t consider it a con: I think if you own a Beam you also own a Type-C phone. The cables are well-made, and I’d like to have the possibility to buy them separately on the website, in case you’d lost one or woud like to have more.
The sound-quality led indicator is also there, as well as a play/pause button which is the same lever for the volume, but you must press it: smart.
Speaking of sound, I must say it’s more neutral than the Whistle – thing I appreciate – and doesn’t hiss like it: it’s a sign of cure and evolution. The volume is a bit lower at the same volume level, but I prefer like that, given the better quality. It may also be due the dimensions, which are significantly reduced. Bass is quite good, giving a good impact and fastness. Sub-bass is well reproduced, but lacks the mid-bass and layering presence of more premium DAPs. I was really pleased to hear such clean midrange frequencies, the real deal of this product. All the stuff playing in the midrange feels and sounds right in its place: thanks to a clear background (always compared to the sound that comes natively from the source before using the Beam), the scene offers room for the voice to emerge. If you are looking for sweet and clean vocals on a budget, this Beam and Dunu C-falcon will be a great choice for you.


Pairings and synergy
I’ve tried the Beam (and obviously the Whistle) with some different headphones and earphones. A thing in common: they are both extraordinary amplifiers. Even with poor earbuds like some Huawei OEM ones, with a ridiculously low volume, these two made their job superbly. If you need to drive some high-impedance products, you can count on them too. The similarities may finish here, not because they sound completely different one from the other, but because you could summarize the sound experience like this: when the Whistle might sound bad, the Beam sounds good; when the Whistle sounds good, the Beam sounds better. Not joking: female voices were not a pleasure on the Whistle, but the Beam has really made a jump forward it. Also, the detail is surprisingly better on the Beam, on the lower frequencies mainly, because in my opinion that were the worse ones of the Whistle. I’m not saying the Whistle sounds bad, because I wouldn’t carry it everywhere with me. I’m saying the Beam feels like another level.

One of the best experiences I’ve had was pairing the Beam with my Sennheiser Momentum HD (the On-Ear version). I’m not a “songs are good when bass sounds hard person”, but this synergy is so cozy on the lower frequencies, and, in the same time really, really detailed. Even on the higher frequencies, where some tracks test really hard the hardware, this pairing sounds amazingly good. Very good job, given that both these headphones and this DAC tend to… appreciate a lot playing in the bass. Also, the soundstage here appears very wide, making the sound very musical and feeling emotional. They really sound great together and made me want to listen to them paired.
The better the files, the better the job, usually. But I’ve also tried to listen to average quality files (320 kbps MP3s) which I didn’t like on my 1More MK801, thinking the bad sounding treble and voices were a fault of the record, and I’ve been surprised to find a really satisfactory sound even in those frequencies. I must say, I liked the 1More in a lot of situations, with my DAPs mainly, but with this DAC/AMPs they didn’t sound the best. That’s strange, because all the other situations convinced me that the Beam provides a sound that’s even better than DAPs that cost twice than it. Verdict in that situation: Beam with good headphones makes sound good even low-quality files; Beam with good files makes sound good even discrete headphones. Would I have to say the Beam is a sound-improver, so? Well, that’s exactly what it is. And what it wants to be. More volume, much more quality, detail, warmness, a wider stage: this little metal bar sounds lovely.

In conclusion, it sounds amazingly well, and you can take advantage of all the convenience of having a phone as a source.
It would be interesting having another version of it, a little bit bigger, with its own battery: the only disadvantage (that’s not really a problem) of this kind of products is that they need to take juice from the source, obviously. Maybe this could be an idea for a future product.

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