Hidizs S3 Pro DAC Dongle Review

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidizs S3 Pro DAC Dongle Review

 

 

Introduction:

Hidizs Technology Co. Ltd. was founded in 2009 and offers a wide variety of portable audiophile equipments such like Digital Audio Players (DAP), Digital to Analogue Converters (DAC), DAC/AMP Dongles and In-Ear Monitors.

 

 

The Hidizs S3 Pro is a Hi-Res Audio certified Ultra Portable DAC Dongle that offers Apple Music, MQA and Native DSD support. It features the latest ESS ES9281C DAC chip and weight only 6 grams.

 

 

 

Disclaimer:

I would like to thank Hidizs for providing me the S3 Pro DAC Dongle as review sample. I am not affiliated with Hidizs beyond this review and these words reflect my true and unaltered, opinions about the product.

 

  

Price & Availability:

The original price of S3 Pro is $69. But there will be discount prices during presale campaign on Kickstarter, about $55-$59.

 

 

 

 

Package and Accessories:

The Hidizs S3 Pro came in a small plastic protective box that sports the Hidizs brand logo and the motto of the company on the top. This box was wrapped with a black cardboard box that has the product illustration and some brandings on the top and some product related details at the bottom.

 

The box contains the following items;

  • 1 x Hidizs S3 Pro DAC Dongle
  • 1 x USB Type-C to USB A adapter
  • 1 x Some Print material (User Manual, Warranty Card)

 

 

 

 

Design, Buttons and Build Quality:

The Hidizs S3 Pro is an Ultra Portable DAC/Amplifier Dongle that is a combination of 3 main parts, the main body, the low profile cable and the USB-Type C male connector.

The S3 Pro is available in two different color options which are silver and black like my review unit.

The main body has a diameter of only 20mm (0.79 inches), which can be compared to the size of an US penny, which is made of CNC machined Aluminum Alloy material. On the top of the main body is a metal plate with multiple a circular engravings that give it a look of a vinyl record.

Here is also the MQA logo that is printed in white color.

At the bottom of the main body is the same metal plate with a Hidizs S3 Pro branding.

Here is also a small LED indicator that gives information’s about the actual sampling rates.

On the rear side of the main body is the 3.5mm Single Ended (TRS) headphone output that has Mic support.

The low profile cable has a nice braided design that has a total length of about 90mm (3.54 inches). It’s a 4 core hybrid cable with 2 cores (60 strands) made of high purity silver + 2 cores (60 strands) of OFC (Oxygen Free Copper) wire material, which are protected with a soft PVC insulation.

The USB Type-C male connector has a metal housing with the Hidizs logo on the top that features also a plastic strain relief for extra durability.

The overall build quality of the Hidizs S3 Pro is very good especially for a device with so many features at this price tag.

 

 

 

 

Technical Specifications:

  • DAC                                       : ESS ES9281C
  • Frequency Response             : 20Hz – 40kHz (+0.1dB)
  • THD+N                                   : 0.0008%
  • SNR                                       : 117dB
  • Channel Separation               : 70dB
  • Output Power L/R                  : 55mW @ 32Ohm
  • DSD Decoding                       : Native DSD up to DSD128
  • MQA Support                         : X8 unfold
  • Audio Format Support            : Native PCM & DSD Decoding
  • Sampling Rate                       : up to 32Bit/384kHz
  • Phone Output                         : 3.5mm TRS (Supports Wired Remote Control and Mic)
  • USB In                                    : USB DAC
  • USB Port                                : USB Type-C
  • Size                                        : 20 x 10 x 90mm
  • Weight                                    : 6 grams

 

 

 

 

Remarkable Features:

The Hizids S3 Pro is an Ultra Portable DAC Dongle with some interesting features that are listed below;

 

a) DAC / AMP Section:

The Hidizs S3 Pro has a built in an ESS9281C PRO DAC Chip with Low power consumption, ultra-low distortion and close to 0 noise. It offers PCM supports up to 32Bit/384kHz and DSD support up to DSD128. The build in amplifier section of the S3 Pro has a driving power of about 55mW @ 32Ohm for each channel that was able to drive full sized headphone like the ATH-M50 to quite loud volume level, while shows also a pretty clean background when paired with sensitive IEM’s like the Campfire Audio ARA.

 

b) Panasonic Capacitors:

4 x Panasonic capacitors that are added inside the small main body to offers an enhanced listening experience at a pocket size.

 

 

c) OS & device Compatibility:

The Hidizs S3 Pro is compatible with Android, iOS, iPad OS, Windows, Mac OS or newer systems. iOS users do need a Lightning OTG cable that is sold separately.

 

d) HiBy Music APP Comparability:

The Hidizs S3 Pro is compatible with the official HiBy Music app that supports both Android & iOS cross-platforms. Its exclusive USB Audio Access mode works in combination with external USB DACs like the S3 Pro.

 

e) MQA Support:

MQA audio technology is supported by Hidizs S3 Pro portable DAC AMP, able to fully ‘unfold’ MQA files. Music services that support MQA should be installed on playback devices (e.g. HiBy Music, TIDAL) to realize 8x unfolding of MQA audio. S3 Pro will unlock the full potential of TIDAL audio resources and provide you with the optimal performance.

 

 

Equipment’s used for this review:

  • DAC/AMP’s                : Hidizs S3 Pro & Musiland MU2
  • DAP’s                         : Hidizs AP80 Pro
  • IEM’s                          : Hidizs Mermaid MS2, Whizzer HE01, Campfire Audio ARA
  • Headphones             : Audio-Technica ATH-M50, SIVGA Phoenix

 

 

 

Albums & tracks used for this review:

  • Hayley Westenra – Odyssey Album (Dezzer HiFi)
  • Dionne Warwick – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sarah McLachlan – Angel (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Sertap Erener – Aşk (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Edith Piaf – Non Je Ne Regrette Rien (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Diana Krall – So Wonderful (DSF)
  • Aretha Franklin – I Say A Little Payer (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Dire Straits – Your Latest Trick (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • David Bowie – Heroes (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Barry White – Just The Way You Are (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Isaac Hayes – Walk On By (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Sting – Englishman in New York – (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Eric Clapton – Wonderful Tonight (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • U2 – Sunday Bloody Sunday (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Really Slow Motion – Deadwood (Deezer HiFi)
  • Jo Blankenburg – The Magellan Matrix (Spotify)
  • Lorde – Royal (Flac 24bit/48kHz)
  • Toutant – Rebirth (Deezer HiFi)
  • Massive Attack – Angel (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Charly Antolini – Duwadjuwandadu (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Chopin – Nocturn No. 20 In C-Sharp Minor (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Fazıl Say – Nazım Oratoryosu (Live) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Vivaldi – Le QuarttroStagioni “The Four Season” (Deezer HiFi)
  • Otto Liebert& Luna Negra – The River (Flac 24bit/192kHz)
  • Armin Van Buuren – Vini Vici (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Lunatic Soul – The Passage (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Deftones – My Own Summer (Shove it) (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Metallica – Sad but True (Flac 24bit/96kHz)
  • Opeth – Windowpane (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Megadeth – Sweating Bullets (Tidal Hi-Fi)
  • Rush’s – Leave That Thing Alone (Flac 16bit/44.1kHz)
  • Slayer – Angel of Death (Spotify)s
  • Liquid Tension Experiment 2 – Acid Rain (Spotify)
  • Yosi Horikawa – Bubbles (Spotify)

 

 

 

 

 

The Sound:

The Hidizs will offers for the S3 Pro, 3 different sound tuning modes that will be available after the official launch that can be accessed under the link below;

 

The S3 Pro that I will now review for you came with the default Tonal Balance mode.

The Hidizs S3 Pro is an Ultra Portable DAC/Amplifier Dongle that offers a fairly neutral presentation with a mildly bright tonality which seems to be a character of the ES9281C DAC chip.

 

PS: The reviews is written after a burn-in process of  about 80 hours and is mainly based on my sound experiences paired with the Hidizs AP80 Pro DAP and IEM’s like the Hidizs MS2.

 

 

Bass / Midrange / Treble / Soundstage:

The Hidizs S3 Pro offers a pretty linear bass response with good level of subbass depth that will meet the expectations from ultra portable DAC dongle. The subbass region of the S3 Pro shows in general a good sense of control and transparency that is pretty impressive for a device at this price range, when I do listen to songs like Jo Blankenburg’s “The Magellan Matrix”, Lorde’s “Royals” or Massive Attack’s “Angel”.

The midbass performance of the S3 Pro fulfills my expectation from an ultra portable DAC dongle. The midbass are pretty controlled and show slightly more intensity compared to the subbass region. This area doesn’t show any remarkable negative situations such like a midbass hump or mixings.

 

The midrange of the Hidizs S3 Pro sounds in general fairly transparent and neutral with all earphones and headphones I have paired with it. The lower midrange shows an average level of depth, while listen to male vocals like Barry White or Sting or instruments such like an acoustic guitar or a contrabass.

The upper midrange on the other hand is quite pronounced, detailed and clear when I have listen to female voices or percussion, woodwind and brass instruments such like a piano, flute or saxophone. Female vocals such like Hayley Westenra or Edith Piaf are reproduced in a quite transparent, airy and detailed manner, with good level of extension and control.

The treble range of the Hidizs S3 Pro shows a close to neutral, pretty transparent and mildly bright tonality with sufficient sense of airiness and extension. The lower treble region is slightly more detailed compared to the upper treble area, which shows otherwise a pretty good performance for a such a small ultra portable DAC dongle when I do listen to genres Pop, Rock and Electronic music up to more complex genres like Jazz, Classical and Metal music with treble intensive instruments such like hi-hats, pianos, clarinets or cymbals.

 

The Hidizs S3 Pro shows a fairly realistic and spacious atmosphere with moderate sense of soundstage depth and wideness. It offers enough neutral air and space between instruments and vocals.

 

 

Comparison:  

Hidizs S3 Pro versus Musiland MU2:

The Hidizs S3 Pro and Musiland MU2 are both Ultra Portable DAC dongles that do offer great value for your money. Both devices do have a solid build quality, while the S3 Pro has a more premium cable and overall look compared to the MU2. The S3 Pro offers 8X MQA and Native DSD support up to DS128 that the MU2 doesn’t have. However, the MU2 has physical volume buttons that the S3 Pro doesn’t have.

But how is the sound performance of those two devices?

 

The Hidizs S3 Pro shows slightly more depth and a better sense of extension in the subbass area; however both devices do show an equal performance in terms of control in this region. When it comes to the midbass response, I can say that the MU2 has a tad more depth and intensity compared to the S3 Pro. The Hidizs S3 Pro has a slightly advantage when it comes to the tightness and overall control in this area.

The midrange of both the S3 Pro and the MU2 shows a good level of clarity, airiness and detail retrieval for products at such a competitive price. However, the Hizids S3 Pro has the upper hand in terms of overall transparency and micro detail retrieval.

Male vocals and instruments such like a viola or acoustic guitar show slightly more depth and intensity when I do listen to the MU2. Female voices and instruments such like a piano, electric guitar or snare drum do sound more crisp, lively and energetic when I do listen to the S3 Pro.

The treble range of the Hidizs S3 Pro shows a slightly better sense of presence, sparkle and extension, while both devices are pretty similar when it comes to the control and detail retrieval in this area.

The S3 Pro has the upper hand in terms soundstage wideness and offers also a more spacious overall presentation. The soundstage depth on the other hand is pretty similar with both devices.

 

 

Conclusion:

The Hidizs S3 Pro is a Hi-Res Audio certified ultra portable DAC dongle with a pretty neutral and detailed sound character for a product at this price range. It comes also with some interesting features such like 8x MQA & Native DSD128 support, a 4 core hybrid wire cable, 4x Panasonic capacitors, power efficient ES9281C DAC chip and many more, which are packet in to robust and lightweight CNC machines Aluminum Alloy body.

 

 

 

Pros and Cons:

  • + General Sound Performance for its Price
  • + Overall Build Quality (Aluminum Alloy Housing)
  • + 8X MQA & Native DSD support up to DSD128
  • + Plug and Play with almost any OS
  • + Value for your Money

 

  • – Upper Treble Extension
  • – No hardware volume/control buttons

 

Thank you for the Read!

 

 

 

 

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