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Audirect/Hilidac Beam 2SE Review (Portable Headphone Adapter)

amirm

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This is a review and detailed measurements of the Audirect (or Hilidac) Beam 2SE headphone DAC and amplifier. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $89. It doesn't seem to be available on Amazon.

The enclosure for the Beam 2SE seems to be made out of metal and shiny plastic, giving it a rather high-end look:

Audirect Beam 2SE review headphone adapter.jpg


There is a USB-C terminal at one end, and 3.5 mm "unbalanced" headphone jack on the other side:

Audirect Beam 2SE review headphone DAC and Amplifier adapter.jpg


Nice shiny little cables are provided which is a good thing as I could not get any of my other USB-C cables to work reliably. Theirs fits securely and worked fine.

Typical of these dongles, my ASIO interface layer that I need for any audio analyzer to control them truncates to 16 bits causing errors. So for most of the tests I played the test files through my Roon player in exclusive mode which doesn't have this issue. So please pardon fewer than normal tests.

Audirect Beam 2SE Measurements
As usual we start with our dashboard:

Audirect Beam 2SE Measurements.png


This is competent performance when it comes to noise and distortion although not class leading:

best headphone dongle review.png


Output voltage of 1.5 volt is better than what you get out of a phone but again, shy of the best in class which produces 2 volts or more. This will hurt its performance with high impedance headphones later.

Dynamic range is good and in line with the dashboard performance:

Audirect Beam 2SE DNR Measurements.png


Jitter is clean although the higher than normal (by desktop standard) may mask some spurious tones:
Audirect Beam 2SE Jitter Measurements.png


Certainly far, far better than a $9 dongle.

Multitone is as expected:

Audirect Beam 2SE Multitone Measurements.png


And better than CD depth so you are good there.

Switching to my analyzer controlling the device so we see the power sweep we get:

Audirect Beam 2SE power 300 ohm Measurements.png


most powerful headphone adapter phone review.png


As noted, there is not enough voltage here to produce top of the class performance. There is however plenty of current to do that with low impedance load:

Audirect Beam 2SE power 33 ohm Measurements.png


most powerful headphone dongle review.png


Beam 2SE Headphone Listening Tests
I was impressed with the ability of the 2SE to drive my low impedance Ether CX headphone. There was plenty of power with no sign of distortion (there was no clipping in any of the above graphs). Power availability was a bit less with Sennheiser HD-650 but still, I found the fidelity excellent and loud enough.

Conclusions
The Beam 2SE targets middle of the road performance and it easily gets there. Distortion and noise should be below audibility with enough power to satisfy most users. The design is sleek and differentiated. Just be careful about which cable you use with it.

Overall, I am going to recommend the Audirect / HiliDAC Beam 2SE. It gives you another option at a different price point.

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As always, questions, comments, recommendations, etc. are welcome.

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Robbo99999

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Not my thing as don't need no dongles......but nice dongle as dongles do!
 

Ismapics

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I don't want to beat a dead horse but $/ SINAD performance and other categories too, an Apple USB-C Dongle is still superior. Again no volume control, limited compatibility and low power, but it costs 9 times less. For portable listening inside the Apple ecosystem is hard to beat. just that.
 

GWolfman

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I don't want to beat a dead horse but...
Well, it's just a pile of bones at this point. J/k

I agree, a competent showing, but likely not worthwhile (considering other options and value).
 

dorirod

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Not a bad effort, but then you have the Tempotec Sonata Pro which performs better, is cheaper, and has volume controls (better than nothing). For this kind of money, I agree that I'd spend $20 more and go with Qudelix 5K for the additional power and features (BT, PEQ, balanced, etc.).
 

GWolfman

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Palfim

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I have to agree with the common tenor...only really useful if you need mqa otg.
I myself mostly use qudelix too, have 2 of them and gave 2 of them to my parents to make their old sennheisers wireless and eq to proper neutrality with it's peq. Can't hear no difference between ldac bt und cabled, so the device is always in my shirt pocket together with a short cable.

Sorry for the offtopic, the audirect has decent measurements and is one of the cheapest ways to get hardware mqa. So it has it's uses. Only missing the balanced output, that is becoming a huge trend...see hidish s9.

We need : a device with as good measurements and power as the s9, but with it's own battery and Bt.
Maybe mqa, too.I'm no expert and never used it.
Qudelix is closest to that though, so I can understand if users recommend that one instead.
I know it hasn't gotten the best sinad, but to my ears it's completely transparent even over bt.
And I love my e1da 3038s , I use it at home for serious, concentrated listening. But I think I would fail an A/B Test, Just my mind telling me you get great stats and balanced audio to boot haha..

Back to topic : considering the low power , I was surprised it could drive the ether cx. So overall might be a decent choice if you want mqa with adequate performance with most inears or even headphones
 
OP
amirm

amirm

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Back to topic : considering the low power , I was surprised it could drive the ether cx.
My power measurements are continuous whereas music is not. I think some of these devices have more power for peaks in music. I need to devise a test for this as I have done for power amplifiers.
 

MarylandUSA

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Too bad the Beam 2SE doesn't use the 9281pro DAC like its balanced brother, the Beam S2.
 

MarylandUSA

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Too bad the Beam 2SE doesn't use the 9281pro DAC like its balanced brother, the Beam S2.
My bad: It DOES use a 9281pro. One large reseller shows it as a 9218 in the specs but Hiludac, the manufacturer, shows the 9281pro on the dongle's page.
 
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