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Audirect Beam 3 Pro Review

The Audirect Beam 3 Pro is a compact digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and amplifier combination unit. The Beam 3 Pro was provided to me for review by ShenzhenAudio, where it is available for purchase for $149.99

HEADPHONES:

I have used the Audirect Beam 3 Pro with the following headphones:

  • HiFiMan HE400SE
  • Sennheiser HD500A
  • Moondrop S8
  • KZ CRN
  • Tanchjim Tanya
  • Moondrop Quarks

MUSIC:

I have tested this device with local FLAC and Spotify Premium. Visit my last.fm page to get an idea of what I listen to:

XenosBroodLord’s Library | Last.fm

PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:

The Audirect Beam 3 Pro comes in a rectangular box. The lid of the box is embossed with the Audirect logo, and technical specifications for the Beam 3 Pro, as well as Audirect’s corporate contact information, are provided on the rear of the box. The Beam 3 Pro is held in a foam mounting sheet inside the box. In addition to the Beam 3 Pro itself, the box contains a user manual, a short USB C-C cable, and a USB-C female to USB-A male adapter. This adapter does not have active circuitry to prevent backpower and I do not recommend using this adapter. Any USB-C to USB-A cable will suffice. If you must use an adapter like this with the Beam 3 Pro or any other USB-C dongle DAC/AMP, I recommend the ones from CableCreation.

DESIGN, BUILD QUALITY, AND AESTHETICS:

The Audirect Beam 3 Pro has a compact design that calls to mind an alien monolith. The body of the device is metal with a deep blue matte finish. Matte black glass plates are set into the front and rear faces. The Audirect logo and “Beam 3Pro” are printed in red on the faceplate, and the MQA logo and a link to Audirect’s website are printed on the rear plate. The matte glass face and rear plates are fingerprint magnets, and the absence of a space between “3” and “Pro” seems like a major design oversight. The rear plate also has a silver sticker printed with a barcode and the unit serial number. With the sticker, the rear plate is very busy looking. I recommend removing the sticker and keeping the rear of the box, which has a sticker with the same barcode and serial number.

There is a small sample rate and format indicator light below the Audirect logo on the front of the device. On the left side of the device is a small button to adjust the gain setting and an accompanying indicator light. Pressing the gain button once shows the indicator light for the current gain setting, and pressing it twice increases the gain level. Adjusting the gain level while on high-gain takes the device back down to low-gain. I would have preferred the gain indicator light to stay on all the time. It is also hard to distinguish between the green indicator light for low-gain and the yellow indicator light for medium-gain.

The included USB C-C cable is very attractive, with a braided shield for the wire and chrome housing hardware.

STANDARDS COMPLIANCE AND FUNCTIONALITY:

Unlike the Audirect Atom 2, the Beam 3 Pro does not implement Android’s headset button standards, nor does it send connector status to the host device or pause on headphone disconnect. While the Beam 3 Pro is intended to be used as a desktop stack replacement, these would have been nice to see.

I also intermittently experienced an issue where the 3.5mm jack of the connected headphone needed to be rotated slightly in order to get a clear signal. While I at first thought this was a clearance issue related to the width of the jack housing when using over-ear headphones with bulky jacks, this does not seem to be the case, as I had the issue with at least one IEM. While easily rectified, this is a little concerning given the price of the device.

POWER DELIVERY:

Note: The following observations were made with a system-wide -4 dB pre-amp setting as suggested here and Spotify volume normalization set to “Normal.” While I recommend using this pre-amp setting to preserve fidelity, it does reduce the headroom of any and all connected source devices. This means that the Audirect Beam Pro 3 is actually more powerful than I will indicate below.

The Audirect Beam 3 Pro is powerful enough to drive just about any in-ear monitor (IEM) and many full-size headphones. The system volume settings required to reach my typical listening volume on several of my harder-to-drive IEMs and the few full-size over-ear headphones in my collection are provided below:

Moondrop S8: 45/100, low-gain

Sennheiser HD500A: 60/100, medium-gain (-7 dB pre-amp to account for EQ)

HiFiMan HE400SE: 70/100, medium-gain

I do not own any truly hard-to-drive over-ear headphones, but hopefully, the fact I didn’t need to resort to high-gain to drive either of my over-ear headphones gives an indication of the Beam 3 Pro’s capabilities.

POWER CONSUMPTION AND HEAT MANAGEMENT:

The following power consumption measurement was taken while the Audirect Beam Pro 3 was in use:

There does not seem to be a significant difference in power consumption between the different gain settings.

This is a high power consumption value, greater than the Hidizs S9 and comparable to the Reiyin DA-Plus:

Hidizs S9
Reiyin DA-Plus

The Beam 3 Pro can get hot to the touch after a multi-hour listening session, though it does cool off quickly once playback is discontinued in this scenario.

SOUND COMPARISON WITH THE HIDIZS S9:

Note: The following observations were made after switching back and forth between the two devices repeatedly under sighted conditions while volume matched to within .5 dB. The Audirect Beam 3 Pro was .5 dB louder than the S9. Any perceived differences between the two sources may be a result of this volume difference. There was a one-to-three-second listening delay to facilitate source switching.

The Audirect Beam 3 Pro seems more resolving and detailed than the Hidizs S9 but also sharper and harsher. The difference is very small and only evident to me in a quiet home environment with the Moondrop S8. These differences are infinitesimal and would not necessarily be apparent under uncontrolled testing conditions.

CLOSING WORDS:

With the Audirect Beam Pro 3, the list of headphones that require a dedicated desktop stack shrinks further. This is an impressively powerful device. It is also an expensive one. If you’re mostly listening to IEMs, the Beam 3 Pro is overkill, but if you want to power headphones and reclaim desk space at the same time, this is the way to go. Hopefully, the minor connectivity issues I have experienced are not widespread.

The Audirect Beam 3 Pro can be purchased below:

Hilidac Audirect Beam 3 PRO Portable Headphone Amplifier ESS9281 AC P (shenzhenaudio.com)

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Hyperbole-free reviews of audiophile IEMs, headphones, digital source and amplification products, and other consumer electronics.

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