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Ortovox Diract Voice Review

This beacon offers voice commands to offer direction in an otherwise stressful situation
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Ortovox Diract Voice Review (Our review team liked the majority of voice prompts on the Diract Voice, such as "SEND, Activated" when the beacon is...)
Our review team liked the majority of voice prompts on the Diract Voice, such as "SEND, Activated" when the beacon is turned on.
Credit: Ian Nicholson
Price:  $450 List
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Manufacturer:   Ortovox
By Dom Rickicki and Ian Nicholson  ⋅  May 13, 2024
68
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 10
  • Speed - 30% 7.0
  • Interface - 25% 9.0
  • Accuracy - 20% 7.0
  • Multiple Burials - 15% 4.0
  • Range - 10% 4.0

Our Verdict

The Ortovox Diract Voice is a decent all-around beacon with an unprecedented feature: it “talks” to its user, offering several prompts to guide the user through different situations. As you'd expect, most of these prompts occur when the beacon is in search mode and are meant to help the rescuer remember key steps during an undeniably stressful situation. The majority of these prompts are most helpful for newer and less practiced users, and the Diract Voice seems to be well-tuned to serve folks who are new to the backcountry. It is fairly quick to solve a single burial with a suitable level of accuracy, but it lacks the range and more advanced features that are handy when dealing with multiple burials. But considering the unique design of its interface, it's unlikely that folks who want direction will care as much about these features as professional rescuers. See how the Diract Voice stacks up in our avalanche beacons review.
REASONS TO BUY
Voice commands
Low profile
Built-in rechargeable batteries
Intuitive design
Comfortable harness
REASONS TO AVOID
Short range
Some voice prompts aren't intuitive
Poor accuracy in fine search and at maximum range
Editor's Note: We recently retested the Diract Voice and updated this review on May 13, 2024, after updating our scoring metrics.

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Bottom Line This beacon's voice commands are hardly a game-changer, but they're a nice complement to a user-friendly optionAn easy-to-follow display and just the right amount of features make this the perfect option for most backcountry usersPerfect for pros or advanced users, this model performs well in every test metricAn intuitive model that manages to pack in a host of user-friendly features, whose price point will appeal to a wide range of backcountry skiersWith an easy to use interface and a very fast processor, this an ideal option for intro-level backcountry skiers and riders
Rating Categories Ortovox Diract Voice Black Diamond Recon X Mammut Barryvox S Arva Neo BT Pro Backcountry Access...
Speed (30%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Interface (25%)
9.0
8.0
7.5
7.5
6.0
Accuracy (20%)
7.0
10.0
9.0
7.0
8.0
Multiple Burials (15%)
4.0
7.0
9.5
8.0
5.0
Range (10%)
4.0
7.0
9.0
10.0
7.0
Specs Ortovox Diract Voice Black Diamond Recon X Mammut Barryvox S Arva Neo BT Pro Backcountry Access...
Manufacturer's Stated Max Range 50 m 60 m 70 m 90 m 55 m
Measured Range 28 m 40 m 55 m 62 m 42 m
Flagging Feature Yes Yes Yes Yes No (Signal Suppression)
Digital or Analog Modes Digital Digital Both Both Digital
Stated Battery Life (in "Send") 200 hours 400 hours 300 hours Alkaline: 350 hours
Lithium: 450 hours
250 hours
Number of Antennae 3 3 3 3 3
Measured Weight 230 g 217 g 210 g 214 g 165 g

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Ortovox Diract Voice has created quite a splash with its release, as no other beacon has attempted to make any sounds other than beeping before. Trying to save someone buried in an avalanche is stressful. Speed is of the essence, with statistics showing that a buried person's chances drop off significantly after 15 minutes. The goal of the Diract Voice commands is to walk you through a rescue, helping you stay on track during this incredibly stressful situation.

Performance Comparison


ortovox diract voice - the diract voice is the first beacon to use audible voice commands...
The Diract Voice is the first beacon to use audible voice commands to inform you what it is doing and what you should be doing in various phases of the rescue.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Speed


The Diract Voice is fast enough for any user to do an efficient search for a single burial, though it is not the fastest beacon in our test. We enjoyed the Diract Voice's processing speed during a fine search as it did not require us to pause and let the beacon catch up while working at an appropriate speed. When considering search speed, it is important to bring up anything that may slow you down. At this beacon's max range, it often wanted to send us the long way around a flux line, resulting in arrows and voice commands that would say “turn around.” This turnaround was quickly followed by another turnaround after the beacon realized the distance was increasing. Other beacons without voice commands allowed us to push through this initial confusion if the beacon was struggling to process the correct direction. But with the Diract Voice barking orders at you, it was hard to ignore the command to turn around, thus forcing a longer coarse search.

ortovox diract voice - finding a single buried victim was less stressful to execute thanks...
Finding a single buried victim was less stressful to execute thanks to voice prompts along with the normal audible beeps, directional arrows, and distance numbers.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Interface


The Diract Voice runs on an excellent, easy-to-use interface. The protected power button is a smart solution to the standard three-way switch on most beacons. Ortovox beacons have long used a flip-open switch to go into search mode. This unique design is not only easy to use but avoids the issue of accidently turning the unit back off after a transceiver check. When turning this unit on, the commands for a group check are clear and easy to understand, and the turn-off confirmation is obvious. The flagging function is also easy to identify and operate.

ortovox diract voice - showing the location of the power-up switch under the search lever...
Showing the location of the power-up switch under the search lever on the Ortovox Diract Voice.
Credit: Ian Nicholson


The Diract Voice is the only beacon we've tested that uses a rechargeable battery system.

While we appreciate this from the perspective of saving money and the environment, our concern is that it doesn't even allow you to add batteries as a backup – say, when you get to the trailhead and realize your beacon's battery is drained. If you know you're the type of person to likely not remember to keep this beacon charged, it's likely a better move to choose a different model that takes batteries.

ortovox diract voice - this beacon is the first to use a rechargeable battery, and we...
This beacon is the first to use a rechargeable battery, and we expect this to become more common in the future. But like some electric-fan airbags, it would be nice to also be able to toss in a few AAA batteries as a backup, just in case we forget to charge it.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Notable Features


The voice commands are certainly the most unique feature of Diract Voice. While we hardly think this feature is a game-changer, we do think there are some folks who will perform better in a real-world rescue thanks to these prompts. Novice users will likely appreciate commands like “Run in 50m search strip widths and look out”. More seasoned users even appreciated hearing prompts like “Send, Activated” upon boot up. While some commands make sense regardless of training, it is interesting that commands like “Search the smallest value” is only helpful if you understand bracketing in a fine search.

ortovox diract voice - the slim diract voice is one of the smallest beacons on the market...
The slim Diract Voice is one of the smallest beacons on the market, and is very comfortable to wear in a harness.
Credit: Dom Rickicki

This Diract Voice is powered by a built-in, rechargeable lithium-ion battery. It charges with a USB-C and provides a very similar level of battery life as most other beacons in this review. Orotovx claims that once charged to 100%, it will be able to send for 200 hrs before searching for an hour. Like many of the newer beacons that have been released in the last few years, this one is Bluetooth enabled and can be paired with your phone or another similar device to update software and configure settings.

ortovox diract voice - the covered micro-usb port is where you can recharge and plug in to...
The covered micro-USB port is where you can recharge and plug in to update the system's software, if necessary.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

While the beacon is booting up, the user has the option to select the group check function, which is convenient for running an efficient transceiver check at the trailhead. This mode shortens the range to approximately one meter and disables the signal lock, letting it freely jump from one transmitting beacon to the next. In this mode, it also displays numbers when you are closer than 1 m, which provides nice visual confirmation for the person you're checking.

ortovox diract voice - the group check function shortens the range to around 1 m with no...
The group check function shortens the range to around 1 m with no signal lock, letting it freely jump from one transmitting beacon to the next, making a trailhead check much more efficient.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Accuracy


For single and multiple burials, the Diract Voice struggled greatly in our accuracy tests. The initial signal acquisition was challenging, and in the first moments of a coarse search, it struggled to accurately point us in the right direction upon first receiving a signal. In the meat of the coarse search, the signal was stronger, but the directional arrows are more jumpy than other beacons we tested, which led us to slow down to ensure we were going in the right direction. In fine search, we were often .5 to 1 meter away from our target when we reached a low point, which forced more probing to pinpoint our target. This distance isn't too alarming, and ultimately, with good probing technique, is adequate to perform a proper pinpoint search. But compared to all the other beacons in our test, this one put us the furthest away from our target each and every time.

ortovox diract voice - the diract voice struggled in the bracketing phase of a fine search...
The Diract Voice struggled in the bracketing phase of a fine search. Its arrows disappear at 3 m (instead of 2 m), requiring more discipline and practice for the user.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Multiple Burials


The Diract Voice uses up to four small icons at the bottom of its screen to show how many signals it's picking up. If there are more than four signals, this beacon will not show an additional “+” symbol or anything of that nature – while this is a bit concerning, we feel this is not a point worth stressing over, as four burials are plenty to deal with.

ortovox diract voice - the diract voice uses up to 4 small "person" icons at the bottom of...
The Diract Voice uses up to 4 small “person” icons at the bottom of its screen to display up to four signals at a time. If the rescuer marks one of the signals, the person symbol is replaced by a “flag” symbol.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Overall, this beacon dealt with two signals almost as well as most beacons in our test. However, with three signals, the Diract Voice began to get quite bogged down. It occasionally struggled to switch or flag beacons, especially if the three transceivers were buried in relatively close proximity. If there were four signals, we had to really slow down, and it seriously struggled to keep up with the top-performing models in this test. When doing multiple burial searches, we found the accuracy of the fine search to decrease with each added burial.

ortovox diract voice - highlighting what the screen displays when you hit the "flag"...
Highlighting what the screen displays when you hit the “flag” button. Note that one of the person symbols at the bottom of the screen has been replaced by a flag.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

For most people, this shouldn't be a major factor in your decision, as only 15% of real-world burials involve multiple burials, and only 5% overall involve more than two. However, for pros whose certification exams involve three beacons (professional level avalanche courses) or four beacons (AMGA ski guide exam), this beacon wouldn't be our first choice.

ortovox diract voice - the diract voice seemed to get bogged down slightly more than the...
The Diract Voice seemed to get bogged down slightly more than the top performers when multiple burials were in close proximity.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Range


For all of the beacons we tested, we averaged the range where we most commonly picked up a signal with each beacon during normal searching scenarios, as opposed to the ideal coupling situation manufacturers use to sell their range. The Diract Voice claims to have a 50-meter maximum range, thus a 50-meter search strip width. This stated range would put it in the middle, if slightly on the shorter side of the average range. But based on all of our tests, we found that the average range of the Diract Voice is 28 meters, which is significantly lower than any other beacon in our lineup.

ortovox diract voice - if this beacon senses interference, it will suggest a smaller search...
If this beacon senses interference, it will suggest a smaller search strip width, though our experience indicates that the suggested 40 m search strip width is wider than what this beacon can handle.
Credit: Ian Nicholson

Should You Buy the Ortovox Diract Voice?


While we didn't fall head over heels for this beacon, we still think the unique voice command aspect is useful and could be helpful in a real-life rescue. Otherwise, the Diract Voice is a solid all-around beacon with a particularly intuitive interface. If you don't feel like you particularly need – or want – the voice commands, some of the other entry-level beacons in our lineup offer better range and accuracy at a more reasonable price point.

What Other Avalanche Beacons Should You Consider?


If you're a beginner just starting out on your backcountry journey, you don't really need a fully-featured beacon with all the bells and whistles. Something a bit more affordable that still features an intuitive interface, like the Backcountry Access Tracker S or Black Diamond Recon X will serve you well. If you're a seasoned pro, we recommend either the Mammut Barryvox S or Black Diamond Guide BT for their customizable features that are more geared towards professional use.

Dom Rickicki and Ian Nicholson