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HIDIZS S8 USB-C Headphone Adapter Review

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the HIDIZS S8 USB-C DAC and Headphone Amplifier. It was kindly sent to me by the company. It is a new product and I don't see it broadly advertised. I only found one site selling it for US $129. So quite high for a dongle.

The box is much larger than the unit itself which weighs next to nothing:
Hidizs S8 USB-C DAC and Headphone Amplifier Audio Review.jpg

Three different adapter cables are provided to mate it to USB-C, Apple Lightning and straight-through so should work with any phone.

The up down buttons work well.

I tested the S8 on Windows 10 which recognized it properly (you have to plug-in the headphone first). Alas, the ASIO4ALL interface I use to test audio products with my analyzer truncated 24 bit samples to 16 bit as it sometimes does. For this reason, I had to run a number of tests manually and a few I had to leave out. But I think you will get a good picture of its performance as is.

FYI, the company contacted me after I reviewed one of their products that I did not give high marks to. Instead of complaining, they politely asked if I would review a new product and I said sure. Here we are.

DAC Audio Measurements
As usual we start with our dashboard of 1 kHz tone:
Hidizs S8 USB-C DAC and Headphone Amplifier Audio Measurements.png


Wow, are you seeing what I am seeing? SINAD (distortion+noise relative to our signal) of 114 dB? This is excellent for a desktop DAC let alone one that is the size of a few grains of rice! Here is how it ranks among all DACs tested regardless of cost:
Best portable dac headphone amp review 2020.png


As noted, we are talking totally inaudible distortion at less than -120 dB! This is stunning achievement.

Even though this is a tiny dongle, it still manages to produce the full 2 volts that desktop products produce. In other words, you can use the S8 for a desktop DAC and not leave any performance and usability behind.

Above test was using WASAPI exclusive mode by the way so there is no truncation to 16 bits. Same with the few other tests to follow.

Dynamic range was again near top of the class for desktop products:
Hidizs S8 USB-C DAC and Headphone Amplifier Dynamic Range Audio Measurements.png


I think the best I have ever measured of any device is 126 dB or so!

Jitter is by far cleaner than any dongle I have tested:
Hidizs S8 USB-C DAC and Headphone Amplifier Jitter Audio Measurements.png


Multitone shows what we already know about very low distortion levels:

Hidizs S8 USB-C DAC and Headphone Amplifier Multitone Audio Measurements.png


For these sweeps I had to use the standard interface which truncated to 16 bits. So don't run with the distortion metrics. First, power into 300 Ohm load:

Hidizs S8 USB-C DAC and Headphone Amplifier Power into 300 Ohm Audio Measurements.png


The "high" 2 volt output translates into very good power output for a small dongle:
Highest power phone usb-c headphone dongle adapter 300 ohm.png


Switching to 33 ohm rewards us with more power as we like to see:
Hidizs S8 USB-C DAC and Headphone Amplifier Power into 33 Ohm Audio Measurements.png

Highest power phone usb-c headphone dongle adapter 33 ohm.png


The reason for high output with 33 ohm load is very low output impedance (so little losses in the device itself):
Lowest headphone amplifier output impedance.png


Headphone Listening Tests
I started with Sennheiser HD-650. Here, there was just enough volume to be useful in my test tracks. The fidelity was there but not the huge bass impact you get with desktop products.

Switching to my inefficient and low impedance 25 ohm Drop Ether CX headphones, I was surprised at the amount of power and fidelity.

Best performance was had with Hifiman HE-400i. There was now plenty of volume with very clean, detailed and high fidelity sound.

Conclusions
What a pleasant surprise the HIDIZS S8 is. Sometimes you want the best and the best is delivered here with S8. It produces vanishingly low distortion and excellent dynamic range. Even at max volume, there is no clipping so what you hear is as transparent as it can get. Yet, it is delivered in a tiny little package that won't weigh down your pocket or phone.

Yes, it is much more expensive than $9 dongles. But in absolute terms $120 is not much given that it produces desktop level performance as well and there, you can't get this kind of performance for $9.

It is my pleasure to strongly recommend the HIDIZS S8. It will be the one I would carry on the plane with me to listen with.

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

Since I started speaker testing, my inbox has exploded with private messages. I need to hire someone really smart to answer them as if he/she is me. Such people are expensive to hire. So please donate what you can before I burn out using: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/how-to-support-audio-science-review.8150/
 
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#2
Respect for Hidizs for sending you it after the previous Sonata review, amazing performance for something so portable

Edit: It is US $89 on Hidizis Official Aliexpress Store, but they have 0 feedback (apparently "grand opening" on their store page). $199 on Hidizs own website. Is the Aliexpress store legit? Tried to find a reference to it on their website to no avail. Have just filled out the contact form on the website.
 
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amirm

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Thread Starter #5

mkawa

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#6
@IVX has some stiff competition for the 9038d! ;)

i think it's a tad too big to be in the same usage class as the apple dongle and the meizu though.
 
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#9
what about the intermodulation hump?
 
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#10
That is excellent and i like the controls and different adapters. This looks like the perfect dongle on the go.
 
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JIW

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#11
@amirm have you measured the SNR at 50 mV RMS?

The full scale SNR of 122 dB at 2 V RMS (6 dBV) gives a noise level of -116 dBV (1.6 µV RMS) which for -26 dBV (50 mV RMS) output gives (at least) 90 dB SNR. Among measured DAC/Amps this is only surpassed by the RME ADI-2 DAC's IEM output which has a much lower full scale output of -3 dBu or -5.2 dBV or 0.55 V RMS.
 
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amirm

amirm

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Thread Starter #12
what about the intermodulation hump?
I could not run it. The AP software is not very good at real time transfer or data to some products. When it falls behind there is a glitch that ruins the measurements. Usually I am able to mitigate it with playing with buffer size and latency but none of it worked in this case.
 

JIW

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#14

Koeitje

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#17
Now I'm really curious about what the Ztella is going to do. I have that and it sounds pretty good, and it also does 2V (auto switching when the impedance gets high enough) while using the latest ESS portable DACs:

http://www.esstech.com/index.php/en/products/usb-audio-codecs/

They have a 9281 and 9270 version and I believe @amirm has one (or both?) on his list to test :). It won't match this score, but its much smaller.
 

pavuol

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#19
CS43131 in this cutie looks like an evolution of CS43130 which was I think aimed as direct "2Vrms" competitor to ES9218P chip used in LG "hifi" phones (G7 / G8 / V30 / V40 / V50). Back in the days I found only one phone incorporating CS43130 - Meizu Pro 7 (Plus).

It would be nice, if some midrange phones came equipped with 3,5mm jack and this dac/amp chip.

Btw., LG Q70 will be such phone in ESS line DACs, stated as "Hi-Fi Quad DAC " equipped, so most probably ES9218P.
Announced 2019/08, still not available on market.. LG :facepalm:
 

Matias

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#20
Was wanting for something like this. Instantly bought mine on AliExpress now to replace my SMSL Idea. Thanks!
 

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