DAC Chip: ES9281C PRO (Single)
PCM 24bit – 384khz DSD128 MQA, SNR: 118 dB SNR, Power: 120 mW 32Ω, USB Type-C Male, 3.5mm SE (Microphone: Supported), Compact, 53x15x10mm, 23g, Metal Chassis, No Cable
LISTENING EQUIPMENT USED IMPARTED HUGE INFLUENCE TO SOUND IMPRESSIONS & RATING
Extensive comparison done with HiBy FC3 which uses the same DAC Chip, the two of them practically sounded the SAME – with minor nuances that separate them. So, I will only list what I heard different between the two. Refer to my HiBy FC3 impressions for the rest
- Commanding dynamics that is slightly meatier than FC3
- Mildly better sense of spaciousness, airiness, and imaging
- A hair better bass decay than FC3, by a few milliseconds
- Slightly better speed handling for amazingly fast BPM songs
- Mildly sharper edged percussions vs FC3
- Mildly richer texture and tone for Cello and Piano vs FC3
- User selectable Low, Mid and High Gain
- Out of the box support for USB C and Apple Lightning cables
- Beautifully made braided cables + USB-A Adaptor
- No dedicated hardware volume control
- Timbre articulation level just a hair lower than FC3
- Slightly weaker SE output compared to FC3 (both High Gain)
- Heavier built and slightly larger
hiliDAC Audirect BEAM 2SE. It was a pain for me to compare this one with HiBy FC3. They really do sound very similar – timbre and tonality are exactly similar. Only with very critical listening I was able to pick up the differences. On a very miniscule difference, FC3 remained the cleaner sounding of the two while BEAM 2SE slightly richly bodied – again VERY miniscule difference that I was able to pick up with the use of ultra-resolving Shure KSE1500. I am not surprised by this as the implementation were done with such limited real estate meaning that the core DAC will impart 90% of the sound characteristics. I believe, had them been full sized DAC/Amps, they would sound differently with different tuning (utilizing larger capacitors, power stage, Opamp etc.)
My conclusion, BEAM 2SE offer a slight advantage of being less sterile in overall contrast to the more coherent FC3 – which in turn making it more adaptable to wider pairing. However, BEAM 2SE will be better served with an already warm, organic sounding IEMs/Headphones. Pairing it with highly resolving and sparkly BA could make the overall sound less dynamic notwithstanding being exceedingly technical.
18 July 2021 Update
hiliDAC Audirect BEAM 2SE gets an uplift today due to impressive performances driving FOSTEX T40RP 91db Magnetic Planar cleanly and with ease at 70-75/100 volume. Tests done on iPhone 7 and at High Gain. The sound was pristine clear. Timbre coherence and stability retained respectfully – not exactly warm or dry, nicely balanced to be musical yet technical still with great level of resolution and details. Bass responses remained tight and tidy with proper amount of punches and rumble. Treble crispy clean and extended respectfully. Mids utterly neutral and naturally textured. The dynamics as vibrant as it can be with engaging vibes. I am digging this a lot.
Best Pairing: Natively warm and dynamic headphones/earphones/magnetic planars.
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