• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Hidizs S3 Pro Review (Headphone Adapter)

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
35,320
Likes
134,846
Location
Seattle Area
This is a review and detailed measurements of the Hidizs S3 Pro portable USB-C DAC and headphone amplifier. It was sent to me by the company and costs US $55.

It comes in silver and black. I have the latter:

Hidizs S3 Pro Review Headphone Dongle Adapter USB-C.jpg


I must say, it is so cute with that round shape! Nice to see some innovation as far as form factor in these products especially if you are going to pay a premium over $9 dongles form phone companies.

There is a nice three color LED indicator showing the sample rate. In use it ran cool to the touch during my testing.

Hidizs S3 Pro Measurements
Here is our usual dashboard of 1 kHz tone at 1 kHz sampling rate:
Hidizs S3 Pro Measurements Headphone Dongle Adapter USB-C.png


One channel has very low distortion for a dongle at SINAD of 105 dB. For some reason the other though is much lower at 97 dB. Averaging the two the S3 Pro lands in competent design category for all DACs tested:

best USB DAC dongle tested.png


The output voltage is key though as that determines the maximum power you can get into high impedance headphones. I like to see minimum of 2 volts and we are short of that at 1.4 volts. Throw-away dongles are around 1 volt so you are getting more just not as much as I like to see. Alas, this is not much larger than a throw away dongle so probably not any room to build a decent dc to dc converter in there.

Dynamic range was surprisingly good:

Hidizs S3 Pro Measurements Dynamic Range Headphone Dongle Adapter USB-C.png


That's on the left. On the right, for the first time I tried to adjust the volume to 50 millivolt using Windows volume control (there is no other). Not sure I trust the numbers I see there but there you have them.

Jitter test cleaner output than many dongles that are at total mess:
Hidizs S3 Pro Measurements Jitter Headphone Dongle Adapter USB-C.png


Most important tests here are power output. Let's start with 300 ohm:
Hidizs S3 Pro Measurements Power into 300 ohm Headphone Dongle Adapter USB-C.png


As expected, total power is not anything to write home about:

best USB-C headphone dongle tested 300 ohm.png


Surprisingly though, the S3 Pro steps up when it comes to low impedance 32 ohm test:

Hidizs S3 Pro Measurements Power into 32 ohm Headphone Dongle Adapter USB-C.png

best USB-C headphone dongle tested 32 ohm.png


S3 Pro Listening Tests
I started testing with my Sennheiser HD-650. On tracks with full amplitude there was plenty of volume which surprised me. The burst power capability must be higher than continuous power I test. On tracks with lower amplitude, there was just sufficient volume in a quiet room.

I expected the unit to fall apart with Drop Ether CX headphone but it did not! It got up to average volume with zero distortion. If you look at the power vs distortion curves above, neither clips which means any volume you get is essentially transparent to your source. That is what I experienced.

Net, net, subjective results were better than what objective data suggested at first blush.

Conclusions
The S3 Pro provides good objective performance. I wish it could produce more power but fortunately in subjectively testing, it seems to be there. Combined with that you get a cute package at average price for premium dongles. So while I hope for more when testing this class of device, at the end it won me over.

I am going to recommend the Hidizs S3 Pro as long as you don't have more demanding headphones than what I tested.

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

Any donations are much appreciated using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 

pavuol

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 2, 2019
Messages
1,171
Likes
2,858
Location
heart of EU
I like to see minimum of 2 volts and we are short of that at 1.4 volts.
..
The burst power capability must be higher than continuous power I test.

It features ESS ES9281C PRO (dac/amp) chip, which is 2Vrms, could it be that thay employ its potential for these short swings only?

Just for curiosity, there are specs for ES8281A PRO out there, what's the difference with this "C" iteration?

PS: as always, many thanks to the reviewer and the brave company
 
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
35,320
Likes
134,846
Location
Seattle Area
I don't know. I was hoping for 2 volts and found it strange to be 1.4 volts. I measured it multiple ways and kept getting the same thing.

They have different firmware for it so maybe they needed the headroom for different frequency responses???
 

pavuol

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 2, 2019
Messages
1,171
Likes
2,858
Location
heart of EU
I don't know. I was hoping for 2 volts and found it strange to be 1.4 volts. I measured it multiple ways and kept getting the same thing.

They have different firmware for it so maybe they needed the headroom for different frequency responses???
Yes, I thought the same.. for explanations to others:
S3 Pro firmwares.jpg


Also, just found out that Audirect/Hilidac Beam 2SE measured previously with the same chip seemed also be capped at 1,4Vrms..
 
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
35,320
Likes
134,846
Location
Seattle Area

GWolfman

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 3, 2020
Messages
381
Likes
434
Thanks. Not cute to me, but with a few tweaks I'm sure this could move up another 10-15% up the rankings.
 

Mulder

Active Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2020
Messages
232
Likes
287
Location
Gothenburg, Sweden
I have had the Hidiz S8 and now I have the S9. My experience is that that braided USB cable that sits in the dongle is of very poor quality and does not last long. The S9 came with much better cables.
 

Steve Dallas

Senior Member
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
475
Likes
873
Location
A Whole Other Country

Tks

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 1, 2019
Messages
2,900
Likes
4,566
Just wondering what the wisdom would be to test the 50mV spec with 600ohm impedance? Also is there something wrong with the last graph, the E1DA has a zero as it's output?
 

3125b

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
May 18, 2020
Messages
814
Likes
1,204
Location
Germany
Just wondering what the wisdom would be to test the 50mV spec with 600ohm impedance?
What do you mean by that?

Not sure I trust the numbers I see there but there you have them.
I don't know about that, seems too low. If you still have the Apple dongle, would you care to measure that at 50mV? Because I measured mine with a 33R load at 89dB SINAD, wich might be limited by my ADI-2 Pro, that's actually really good* - I don't suspect this dongle to do that much worse, performance at full output seems similar.

*60dB would be worse than just about any device I measured at that level actually (I always use 33R load). The ADI-2 scored 88dB in loopback, the humble FiiO E10K managed 84dB, and even my PC mainboard would have the dongle beat at 67dB. I just can't imagine that to be right.
However these dongles generally seem to be very susceptible to any sort of interference since they are made to run off a DC powered phone with nothing else around, that might explain some of it.
 

staticV3

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
503
Likes
759
Just wondering what the wisdom would be to test the 50mV spec with 600ohm impedance? Also is there something wrong with the last graph, the E1DA has a zero as it's output?
At the time of testing, Amir did not have a 32Ω differential load to test the 9038S with. Accompanying measurements indicated however that it was quite powerful.
The result was that the 9038S was placed at the top of the 32Ω power chart without an actual value.
 
OP
amirm

amirm

Founder/Admin
Staff Member
CFO (Chief Fun Officer)
Joined
Feb 13, 2016
Messages
35,320
Likes
134,846
Location
Seattle Area
Was it an early prototype or something? My understanding is that production quantities aren't shipping yet, but I could be mistaken. (I am assuming you are the owner of the device?)
I got my sample from the company back in late June.
 

norcalscott

Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 30, 2020
Messages
62
Likes
68
Location
Sierra Foothills
I got my sample from the company back in late June.
Sorry, now I see you state that you got it from the company in the review...Duh

I don't think this has enough power to drive most of my headphones but I plan to use it as a cheap MQA DAC for a Raspberry Pi / Volumio setup.
 

raif71

Major Contributor
Joined
Sep 7, 2019
Messages
1,561
Likes
1,433
Last edited:
Top Bottom