Audirect Beam 4 Review – Portable USB DAC-AMP With Battery Built In
Audirect is a well-known manufacturer of high-performance portable DAC/AMPs. The brand has many active product catalogs featuring high-quality USB DAC/AMPs to be used portably with different devices. They have recently launched their latest flagship to the famous “BEAM” series of products, introducing the all-new Audirect Beam 4.
The new Beam 4 high-end portable USB DAC/AMP is equipped with a dual high-performance ES9281AC Pro DAC chipset from ESS Sabre Technologies, the Beam 4 promises high-quality performance. It supports decoding for all-leading audio signals supporting 32-Bit/768kHz PCM and native DSD512 audio signals.
In order to deliver top-quality audio performance, Audirect has equipped the Beam 4 with a high-performance DAC chipset from ESS Sabre Technologies. The device houses a dual ES9281AC Pro DAC. It is a 32-Bit DAC chipset that supports decoding for advanced 32-Bit/768kHz PCM and native DSD512 audio signals.
Audirect Beam 4 houses a large 1200mAh battery. It ensures a stable power supply to the internal circuitry including the decoder host, headphone output port, etc called an independent power supply system. When the battery voltage becomes low the system will automatically draw power from the phone or PC to provide a stable voltage for the sound quality. Meaning it will charge to a certain level and then stop.
Audirect Beam 4 features a multicolor indicator-led light that glows in different colors based on the active file bitrate. It glows in red for simple PCM up to 48kHz bitrate, Blue for 384kHz PCM bitrate, Yellow for denoting DoP at work, White shows native DSD decoding and magenta color for MQA tracks. There’s also a battery indicator light this light starts flashing red when the battery is too low.
The Beam 4 also features hardware buttons for media playback and volume control besides on-off and gain control.
Audirect Beam 4 fits different use scenarios with its dual headphone output ports. The Beam 4 features 3.5mm single-ended and 4.4mm balanced headphone output ports. It meets the various needs and requirements of the users. With a three-level gain mode, the Beam 4 is a perfect match for both sensitive as well as high-power requiring earphones.
Premium ES9281AC Pro Independent Decoding Chipset.
Before I begin I want to say that the Audirect Beam 4 is a perfect example that we can’t evaluate the sound of a DAC by looking at its DAC chips and making a general statement. There are many variables when it comes to real-world performance. The implementation, combining good hardware with well-done firmware, proper amplification, filtering, etc. differentiates the final sound.
My first observation was actually not in tonality but in the staging which seems to open up considerably compared to other dongles. Placement is excellent and there is lots of depth along with width and height but most of all a very good micro staging ability.
Natural, realistic, organic signature with plenty of details. That is how I describe the Beam 4. It is not only organic but also technically advanced as well. It is one of the best DACs I have ever heard, to be honest.
First of all, it sounds quite coherent. There are no dips, no humps. It is flat and it is accurate. Technically, the separation and the imaging feel absolutely marvelous. The bite, the attack & decay is not fierce, it’s rather fast and agile but more effortlessly. There is plenty of air between the instruments and combining that with a precise, holographic staging results in very accurate imaging. With Beam 4, every instrument on the stage has a dedicated, clear position. The Beam 4’s resolution is quite impressive as well. The clarity is top-notch.
Punchy, authoritative, defined. Sub-bass presence is ample. Overall bass response is very good, just like the rest of the range. The note weight is the key here. It does not feel tinny or dry at all. Necessary harmonics are presented effortlessly by Beam 4. The bass is quick, agile, and snappy as well. This makes transients a joy to follow. The dynamics are excellent, as well as the control. The bass never bleeds into mids and never lags behind. Well done.
Articulate and coherent. The midrange is just right. Stringed instruments sound breathy and organic to my ears. The effortless presentation of Beam 4 does not surprise me here, as well. Mids are thick when they need to be so there are no problems with the tonality here. Vocals do not feel saturated, artificial, or thin, in fact, they feel life-like. Audirect tuned this range delightfully. Macro-detail retrieval is especially impressive here. Female vocals are delicate, detailed, and transparent. You get to hear and follow every breath, every nuance with ease. The upper midrange has ample energy and it is vivid. Don’t get me wrong here, it is not overly bright or sharp. Just the contrary, in my opinion, it offers a perfectly balanced upper midrange. If you are in this market for a long time, you know it is a crucial area, and tuning it, is hard.
Very detailed, precise, and clear. Highs offer excellent clarity and detail while being articulate and coherent. You keep hearing the word coherent from me, and yes it is true, every frequency range is in complete sync with each other. The Beam 4 has brilliant tonal balance. No overlapping, no bleeding. You will never hear the treble overpowering the midrange with this DAC. Furthermore, the treble extension is impressive and blends in perfectly with the rest of the spectrum.
The Audirect Beam 4 is an excellent DAC. It looks gorgeous. It sounds organic, detailed, and effortless. It has a great tonal balance and it offers precise imaging. Not many USB DACs can do that. Getting the dynamics, tonality, and technicalities right is hard. Audirect surely did a lot of R&D for this device to maximize the performance of dual ES9281AC PRO DAC chips. It is one of the best portable DACs I have heard, to be honest.