muchenchris

New Head-Fier
Audirect Beam 3 Plus - The best entry level portable DAC I had ever used
Pros: Well designed leather case and cables
Small, light, and soft texture on the side
The electromagnetic shielding is well controlled
Enough battery to use
4.4 balanced output with enough power
MQA renderer
Cons: Icon coating on the button is hard to read
No screen to see the remaining battery
The leather case is a little bit loose
Microphone reception is not very good
Why have portable DAC/amp products been popular these years?

With the development of society and the growth of per capita income, more and more people have started to consider improving the quality of music while using their smartphones, some other multi-media devices such as Nintendo Switch, or something else. They bought some professional headphones initially, but they soon found their smartphones may not be suitable to push those headphones directly. Preparing a DAC is their only option. The desktop DAC/amplifiers or portable players are not convenient for them. Searching DSD files also prevent them from using many of the players.

So, the portable DAC wined in this market competition. The smallest one is even not bigger than a buckle. Some of them add Bluetooth function inconvenience for reducing the cables which connected to smartphones. Especially pretty convenient for taking public transportation.

Back to the topic, I just got their brand new Bluetooth portable DAC from Audirect(used by Hilidac). The Audirect Beam 3 Plus.

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PROS - The features and design I like:

  • Clear sound and strong power: I was surprised by the small item that can sufficiently push my Sennheiser HD800S and AKG K872 to get this clear, shining sound with a high volume of information. Not too much decoration of the tone. Everything is natural and emotional. (AKG K872 was connected to 3.5mm cable)
  • Exquisite leather case: The case has the same color as the body of DAC. Just a little bit loose but stable for protecting. Also, the patient has a clip to be easily fixed at coat or backpack.
  • Support MQA renderer and 8-hour battery life while using Bluetooth: I subscribed to TEDAL as the leading music application on my iPhone, so supporting MQA is crucial for me to enjoy master quality at TEDAL fully. I usually use 2 hours with Bluetooth every day, and the battery can hold the usage for a week before I charge it. If switching to USB mode, the battery life can extend much more prolonged than Bluetooth.


CONS - Disadvantages I don't like:

  • The microphone has insufficient noise reduction: Beam 3 Plus has a microphone on the top for calling. But it sounds like they didn't provide noise reduction on it. It is noisy on the other end while you are using it to call somebody. My friend even cannot figure out what I say on the phone.
  • Lack of critical accessories: Beam 3 Plus is powerful but not enough. The playing should be more passionate with independent power supply cable. I hope Audirect could do some research on it.

Conclusion

The fastest way to comprehend a product, especially in the audio area, is listening by yourself. Do not trust other people too much in some personal intuitive listening. For beginners, the Audirect Beam 3 Plus is worthful and omnivorous for different kinds of music. For its competitors, ifi hip dac 2 and Fiio BTR5, Beam 3 Plus will be more marketable obviously. The ifi hip dac 2 driving power is weaker than it, and it doesn't have Bluetooth. The Fiio BTR5 is missing the balanced output but is cheaper than both two.
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muchenchris
sry for the stupid Grammarly auto adjusted, all "TEDAL" means "TIDAL"

Tofub00b

New Head-Fier
Audirect Beam 3 Plus review - A low effort entry into bluetooth sources.
Pros: 4.4 balanced out for headphones
Tactile, clicky buttons
Small form factor
No voice assistant or loud chime for power on/low battery
Cons: No carrying case
Switch for toggling between USB and Bluetooth is too close to USB-C port
Very noisy 3.5mm output
No screen to indicate gain selected, remaining battery
Expensive and non-competitive pricing compared to ifi Hip DAC / Shanling UP5 / BTR5 / Qudelix 5k
Preamble on portable DAC/amps:
Portable sources like the Qudelix 5K, BTR 5 and ifi Hip DAC are becoming increasingly portable as audiophiles tote their IEMs to work or on their commutes. Desktop rigs are great and all, but it's not exactly feasible to bring around a full sized Topping A90 or even a smaller A50S. Some office spaces are small, and some of us work out of a laptop in a co-shared space like Starbucks.

With tiny sources and dongles getting more popular, even as phone companies do away with 3.5mm jacks, the mobile audiophile has a lot to choose from. The unwieldy wired mess that is the dongle, dongle to DAC solution, or the Bluetooth solution. Whichever you choose, great audio quality is a must, but convenient portability is just as important.

The Audirect Beam 3 Plus is the company's shot at offering at a BTR 5 / Qudelix 5K product, with a full sized 4.4 balanced jack. Does it do it well?

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Best features - What I liked:

  • Sound quality: this thing pushes balanced headphones adequately, with great dynamics and a clean, neutral signature. No bass boost switch, no warm tilt. Nada. Just turn up the gain for the more demanding stuff. I used the Audio Technica R70X and HD600 with no complains.
  • Strong Bluetooth connection: the one thing I hated with the BTR5 was how poor the connection could get with LDAC. Even using it in my pants pocket, the BTR5 would choke. With the Beam 3 Plus, the Bluetooth is very stable, and I have cooked in the kitchen as my phone charged in the living room.
  • No start-up chime: this is debatable, as the chimes and low battery indicators are very important for most users. For me, I did quite like how there was no annoying start-up sound.
The terrible - What I disliked:
  • Noisy 3.5mm out: This misdemeanor alone kills it for me. There is simply no excuse for a portable DAC/amp to have a noisy 3.5mm output. Most people use a 3.5mm jack with their gear, and only upgrade to a balanced cable further along when they have owned something for a while. It's noisy and distracting when nothing is playing. The 3.5mm jack is nigh un-usable for me. Especially when compared to the pitch black of the BTR 5. The Zen Dac that I use as a desktop solution is also far cleaner, while pushing out more power.
  • No case: The Beam 3 Plus comes in at $230 SGD. It's a premium offering but none of the nice-ties. There is only a USB C to C cable, and a C to A adaptor. Nothing else. The BTR 5 includes a clip, as does the Shanling UP 4 and the ifi Hip DAC.
  • Poor support: The company itself, doesn't seem to care too much about their product, as the Beam 3 Plus isn't even listed on the Hilidac website. You can't even find the battery capacity on Google. It's practically a ghost product that I think will be abandoned by Hilidac quickly enough.
  • Garbage battery life: This thing has terrible battery life. There's no way to get around it. It'll barely last 3 hours with the 4.4 balanced out. Even with IEMs, I didn't get too much usage out of it before it dies with a LOUD buzzing sound. I will be downgrading the Beam 3 Plus as my work laptop audio solution. It's not usable as a portable source.
Conclusion
To wrap up my feelings about the Audirect Beam 3 Plus, most of it being negative, I will not recommend this thing at all. It's priced too high, offers too little, and frankly the piss poor battery life and noisy 3.5mm jack alone are enough for me to list it as a failed product. Maybe it is a prototype design from Hilidac, and if so, there's potential when working with this form factor.

But as a product pushed out as "ready" for consumers? This thing drops the ball more often than it scores. A small list of better all-round products is provided here:

  • For the user who needs 4.4 balanced out for hungry headphones: The ifi Hip DAC has higher output power for it's balanced out (400mv into 32 ohms) and also sports a usable 3.5mm jack for IEMs or headphones that you may not have balanced cables for. No bluetooth however.
  • For the user who needs a great Bluetooth solution: the Qudelix 5K gets the nod, but it's not easy to buy internationally (especially if you don't support Amazon and it's practices). The Shanling UP4 gets the nod here, but I would wait for the UP5, which has 2.5mm and 4.4mm balanced out.
  • For the user who needs 4.4 balanced out for IEMs: Lotoo Paw S1. I like how it doesn't have any batteries, functioning as a pure USB dongle. No battery replacements needed coupled with a tiny form factor. I can see this being a real keeper for someone who tests out IEMs often.
  • For the user who doesn't mind being tethered to a desktop solution: The Zen DAC is cheaper than the Beam 3 Plus by almost 70 SGD, while providing a warmer sound signature and higher power ouput. It's a wonderful all-in-one for the price, with options for upgrading to stack an amp through RCA or 4.4 balanced out.
The Beam 3 Plus gets my unequivocal thumbs down for me. Do NOT buy this thing if you value the 3.5mm output, or want to use it primarily as a Bluetooth DAC/amp. Even disregarding it's premium price, lack of carrying case, the Beam 3 Plus is not worth a second look due to how poor the battery life is.

It has been a while since I have encountered an audio product that actually made me angry, this is one of a special few that genuinely left a bitter taste in the mouth. (Note: I have also requested a replacement model from a retailer. The 2nd unit performs in exactly the same way. No defects. Poor battery life is a feature, apparently)

This gets a 1.5 because it (i) produces passable sound out as a USB C DAC/amp (3.5mm out sounds just ok) and (ii) fails in every other function as a Bluetooth portable, regardless of price.
Last edited:
Abrahans
Abrahans
Looked great, but beam 3 plus 4.4mm plugged to android will drain too much battery or normal? I'm interested on good portable MQA dac/amp, that drive well over ears like OPPO pm3 Z7 msr7b? Ty
T
Tofub00b
If its on battery, the battery will drain very quickly if you're running headphones at high gain. On USB mode I don't think it drains that much.
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