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Review and Measurements of HIDIZS DAC and Amp Dongle

amirm

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#1
This is a review and detailed measurements of the HIDIZS portable USB-C DAC and headphone dongle for phones which don't have headphone jacks anymore. I purchased mine back in October of last year for US $36. Amazon sells it now for US $43. HIDIZS' own website has a new version (?) called S1 and say it sells for US $25.

The HIDIZS has a bit more "bling" to its dongle with twisted cable and fancy "hi-res" sticker:

HIDIZS Portable Headphone Amplifier USB Type C DAC Headphone Amp Audio Review.jpg

The cable is certainly more flexible than what I have seen with other dongles. The reputation of HIDIZS is that of a premium brand so let's see how it does in measurements.

USB-C Dongle Audio Measurements
As I normally do, I tested the dongle on Windows 10. It is plug and play there so if you wanted to, you could use it on your laptop just as well. Here is our dashboard view:

HIDIZS Portable Headphone Amplifier USB Type C DAC Headphone Amp Audio Measurements.png


We see that the maximum output is just 1 volt. That will hurt it in power department with high impedance headphones. And is half as much as what we normally see in desktop DACs.

THD+N and hence SINAD (signal over noise and distortion) at 91 dB places it in the second tier of all DACs tested:

HIDIZS Portable Headphone Amplifier USB Type C DAC Headphone Amp SINAD Audio Measurements.png


It comes out ahead of sme dongles like Google Pixel, but behind our class champion, the Apple dongle (SINAD of 99 dB).

We have plenty of noise in our 1 kHz FFT spectrum above and the same shows up in jitter test:
HIDIZS Portable Headphone Amplifier USB Type C DAC Jitter Audio Measurements.png


This is typical of these dongles though.

Signal to noise ratio at max volume is barely enough for CD/16-bit content:

HIDIZS Portable Headphone Amplifier USB Type C DAC Headphone Dynamic Range Audio Measurements.png


When we reduce the output to 50 millivolts to gauge noise level for sensitive IEMs, score is not that great:
HIDIZS Portable Headphone Amplifier USB Type C DAC Headphone SNR Table Audio Measurements.png


So you may hear hiss and noise in those situations.

High noise level hurst intermodulation+noise graph versus output level:

HIDIZS Portable Headphone Amplifier USB Type C DAC IMD Audio Measurements.png


Worst showing is in linearity test:
HIDIZS Portable Headphone Amplifier USB Type C DAC Headphone Linearity Audio Measurements.png


This indicates truncation of 24-bit samples to 16 bit which may be a compatibility issue with Windows. Then again there is that weird behavior around -28 dB which every other DAC normally nails.

Most important measurement is power versus distortion+noise. Here is that with 300 ohm load:
HIDIZS Portable Headphone Amplifier USB Type C DAC Power at 300 Ohm Audio Measurements.png


Overall noise and distortion is decent but we just don't have much power at just 3.4 milliwatts.

Testing with much lower impedance of 33 ohm yields:
HIDIZS Portable Headphone Amplifier USB Type C DAC Power at 33 Ohm Audio Measurements.png


We get more power as expected but still not a whole lot of it.

Output impedance is a very good 1.8 ohm:
Headphone Amplifier Output Impedance Measurement.png


EDIT: original review had the incorrect output impedance above.

Back to power, here is how the HIDIZS compared to other dongles at 300 and then 33 ohm:

Best Portable DAC and Amp Power at 300 Ohm.png



Best Portable DAC and Amp Power at 33 Ohm.png



Frequency response is nice and flat:
HIDIZS Portable Headphone Amplifier USB Type C DAC Frequency Response Audio Measurements.png


Headphone Listening Tests
Starting with Sennheiser HD-650, performance was just "OK" with anemic bass as the power measurements predict.

Switching to Hififman HE-400i resulted in a bit more power but likely more distortion too as it sounded bright with again, very anemic bass performance.

Conclusions
I see nothing in the measurements or subjective experience to justify the premium for this dongle. It will likely sound fine with a sensitive IEM but based on same standards I use for testing, you are better off with $9 dongles from phone vendors than paying extra for this. So I can't recommend the HIDIZS.

My sample is available for sale if anyone is interested.

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

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#2
Interesting. I was able to measure something like that truncation thing with my crude RMAA setup, and it's nice to have it confirmed. I suppose the hi res sticker this dongle came with would be better stuck onto some other device :p

FWIW I have the Tempotec variant of it, which is identical because I was able to install Hidizs firmware on it. It's cheaper and has a different design around the 3.5mm jack, but otherwise looks to be the same thing.
 

ZolaIII

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#3
Worse in every way that decent smartphone implementation which not really even giving more output power.
 

Geo2160

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#4
This pretty much sums up the experience that I had with this dongle for the last year or so. Hissing is indeed noticeable with more sensitive IEMs. I used it with the Nuforce HEM2 and HEM8 for prolonged periods. The, HEM2, with a 110dB sensitivity, was completely fine, but the HEM8, with a 124dB sensitivity, had noticeable hissing in quieter tracks.

One thing to note here is that these measurements are done on Windows, which can properly scale the volume for all these dongles. Android, on the other hand, limits the power severely. I don't remember the reason, but it's been explained in the dongle reviews on the Google Pixel section of the XDA forum. The Apple dongle for example, can barely drive anything other than IEMs on a non-rooted Android device. The Hidizs on the other hand, has no problem driving even full size headphones. Bear in mind that this does not contradict the review above. It's just a notice that YMMV depending on the source device and OS.

I own the Hidizs, Google gen 2 and Apple dongles and I have used them extensively on Android. If you guys have any questions regarding subjective usage, post them here.
 
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#5
This pretty much sums up the experience that I had with this dongle for the last year or so. Hissing is indeed noticeable with more sensitive IEMs. I used it with the Nuforce HEM2 and HEM8 for prolonged periods. The, HEM2, with a 110dB sensitivity, was completely fine, but the HEM8, with a 124dB sensitivity, had noticeable hissing in quieter tracks.

One thing to note here is that these measurements are done on Windows, which can properly scale the volume for all these dongles. Android, on the other hand, limits the power severely. I don't remember the reason, but it's been explained in the dongle reviews on the Google Pixel section of the XDA forum. The Apple dongle for example, can barely drive anything other than IEMs on a non-rooted Android device. The Hidizs on the other hand, has no problem driving even full size headphones. Bear in mind that this does not contradict the review above. It's just a notice that YMMV depending on the source device and OS.

I own the Hidizs, Google gen 2 and Apple dongles and I have used them extensively on Android. If you guys have any questions regarding subjective usage, post them here.
Android volume is an internal software control, rather than adjusting the hardware volume built into the USB dongle. This means that if the dongle defaults to something other than 100% when you plug it in you will be limited to whatever that range may be. This is the case with the Apple dongle and used to be the case with the Dragonflies. You can get around this without root using UAPP, by adjusting hardware volume through it and handing back control to the OS by quitting the app completely from its notification tray.
 

Icboschert

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#8
Great timing, I bought this off of AliExpress last week and waiting for shipment to arrive. Looks like I should lower expectations. Their quoted specs say 60mw at 32Ω but this tested out at 28mw at 33Ω......
 
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#9
As it turns out this dongle is the -nth audiophile (¿?) product that is way worse than non audiophile (¿?) Apple dongle.

The boutique audio world tells us lots of things about decieve, bias and poor judgment hard wired to truckloads of human.

Thanks a lot for providing users with objetive data to counter all the online audiophile (¿?) hoopla.

Samsung USB-C Headset Adapter is the last hope for decent wired audio in Android. Along with LG which is the last OEM not ditching the jack.
 
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#10
I also wonder about this one, used it recently and sounded pretty OK for whatever that's worth
https://www.oneplus.com/product/oneplus-type-c-adapter
If it's only compatible with One Plus devices you can bet it's a passive dongle as USB-C can output analog audio.

As far as i know for best quality and compatibility it needs to be an active dongle (with a built in audio codec).

I think Samsung active dongle will (finally) deliver the goods to wired Android audio since they work closely with Cirrus Logic and have an R+D budget that except for Apple no one can top.
 

staticV3

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#11
Hey Amirm! Did you make shure to conduct your measurements using the "SONATA _HD-D_Pure music" firmware? Hidizs provides several different firmwares for this dongle and only version D unlocks the full sound quality.
 
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#12
Hey Amirm! Did you make shure to conduct your measurements using the "SONATA _HD-D_Pure music" firmware? Hidizs provides several different firmwares for this dongle and only version D unlocks the full sound quality.
Worst thing about the dongle is its output impedance.

I doubt that firmware can fix that.

To me this dongle no longer exists. Nor that company.
 
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#15
...why doesn't it ship with the 'pure sound quality' firmware
The one it ships with locks it down to 44?/48khz and enables mic functionality/better compatibility with Android. The D firmware lets you use all sample rates up to 192khz but mic doesn't work.
Hey Amirm! Did you make shure to conduct your measurements using the "SONATA _HD-D_Pure music" firmware? Hidizs provides several different firmwares for this dongle and only version D unlocks the full sound quality.
AFAIK the big issues like 16 bit truncation are present on the D firmware so I wouldn't put much stock in the results being that much different across them.
 
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#16
I owned one of these last year - didn't like the cable - always felt like I was going to rip it apart.

Meanwhile, moved from Pixels to an iPhone XR. Just got from Amazon the Tera Grand MFi DAC with a Lightning connector - after 10 minutes, I'm impressed! They don't list any technical specs but with my Grado 325e's, it sounds pretty damn good! Sure, it doesn't equal my JDS Atom + Khadas Tone Board, but for $19, it's very impressive. It's durable, a nice industrial rubberized outercoat, and a firm connection on the 3.5m jack. I'm going to write the company to see if they will send one to Amir (they're here in San Francisco). Tomorrow, I'm going to try it with my B&W P7's as they're sonic character is totally different than the Grado's.

Here's the link to this puppy:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07DXLDSF8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 
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#17
Needs mesurements of this thing with the firmware D on
even if you guys doubt this would perform better with the firmware "D"
 
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