Hidizs S8

General Information

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Hidizs S8 technical specifications:

  • DAC: CS43131
  • DSD: 64/128/256 HW
  • PCM: 32bit/384kHz
  • Output: 30mW + 30mW @ 32Ω
  • FR respone: 20-50kHz
  • THD+N: 0.002% @ 1kHz
  • SNR: 120dB
  • Channel Separation: 120dB @ 32Ω
  • Output impedance: <1Ω
  • Recommended resistance: 8-150Ω
  • Buttons: Volume +/-
  • Audio jack: SE 3.5mm /mic supported
  • Connecting cables: Lightning/Type-C/Micro-USB/USB Type-A
  • Device port: Micro-USB
  • Weight: 9g
  • Material: aluminum-alloy + glass
Official S8 page and store: LINK

Latest reviews

Pros: Very compact design
Includes all cables needed
Volume controls
Clean and detail sound quality
Cons: Volume adjustment is not very accurate
Can be bright sounding / bass light
Hidizs S8 – Mini DAC & AMP



Website – Hidizs

Specifications


Price: U$ 79.

Available in Black and Silver colors.

Official S8 page

The S8 unit was kindly provided by Hidizs company for the review.


The S8 arrives in a very small simple cardboard box. Upper layer inside holds the S8 device and below are all the possible cables with micro USB on one end to connect to the S8 itself and different plugs on the other: micro USB, Type-C, Type-A and Lightning for Apple devices.


The S8 DAC is a very small device. Build quality is solid for being so compact and light weight. The main frame is all CNC-machined aluminum with the top and back sides of glass, and there are two volume buttons made of plastic. There are just two connections, micro USB for audio input which can (potentially) connect with any digital audio device with the corresponding cables and standard 3.5mm output.




I have used the S8 with Win 10 notebook and different portable audio players with Type-C. It was compatible with Win10 system, no drivers needed, and also with Hiby and iBasso Android OS based players. It was not recognized by the Fiio M6 even though all the other DACs worked fine with M6. Do note that for the device to be recognized the headphones must be plugged first to the S8. Also, when unplugging the headphones music will be paused.




With iBasso players the audio volume can be only handled through the Hidizs S8 buttons, while with a PC and Hiby players it can be adjusted from the source volume too. The S8 has 16 digital volume steps. The volume changes are not subtle enough, usually either too low or too loud, so further adjustment from the sources may be needed.


Sound Quality

For such a small device the S8 is powerful and can get to quite loud volume levels even with high impedance gears. The specifications suggest up to 150ohm, but it has no issues driving 300ohm earbuds like the VE Zen, or a relatively low sensitivity IEM like the final E5000. It may be either the supposed ‘impedance detection’ working or simply having a high jump between volume steps that when switching from sensitive to more demanding sets the extra volume clicks needed are 2 or 3.

For sound presentation, I’ve tested the S8 tends with earphones/headphones with varied sound signatures, from warm and bassy to midrange centered and treble, detail oriented. In general, the S8 presents a cleaner and clear sound, more linear through lows to mids and highlighting the treble. It has an unavoidable forward and aggressive character that depending on the headphones used can become quite tiring and unforgiving.

The DAC itself does not tend to add any coloration though can sound a bit colder, more specially in the midrange. There is good control and extension on the bass which sounds good with neutral or midrange headphones but can sound light and softer in impact with warmer, bass oriented ones missing in mid-bass power. For example, the Campfire Audio Polaris 2 and final E5000 IEMs will sound just less bassy with a cleaner and bit forward mids (which can be good), but with the Meze 99 headphones the low-end and warm tonality is quite missing. Treble is quite the opposite. The S8 gives an extra treble boost that adds more air and clarity, good extension and highlight small details, but result in more aggressive highs. It can be tiring and show harshness and unwanted sibilance with bright headphones like the Dita Audio Fidelity or planar Sendy Aiva and Hifiman Sundara. Soundstage does not sound larger but the presentation is airier and open.


Comparisons

Zorloo ZuperDAC-S

The ZuperDAC-S implements a ESS Sabre DAC 9018 and supports only up to 192kHz / 24 bit quality. Build quality feels tougher with all metal chassis versus the metal & glass combination on the S8. Both DACs have no inner battery and have volume control; the ZuperDAC buttons are harder to press. Volume changes are similar on both, not very accurate being both limited to 16 digital volume steps.

In terms of sound, these are quite the opposite. The ZuperDAC-S emphasize the low-end with a powerful impact and warm tonality, thicker and less forward midrange and much smoother highs. Whatever that doesn’t pair well with the S8 will have much favorable synergy with the ZuperDAC, and vice versa. The S8 highlight more detail and gives higher resolution.


Audirect Beam

Another ESS Sabre DAC, a ES9118 model with same file quality support as the Hidizs S8 of up to 384kHz / 32-bit. All metal build with bit sharper corners than the S8. The Beam has a different volume control that adds a clickable play/pause control, which can be too sensitive.

Sound presentation falls somewhere between the S8 and ZuperDAC-S, but closer to the ZuperDAC-S. Among these three small DACs the Beam is the most balanced and comfortable to listen. It has less bass than the Zorloo but still warmer and stronger than the Hidizs S8. Midrange is forward like on the S8, more textured too but less clear and detailed. Treble is smooth, laid-back next to the S8 but more present than the ZuperDAC.

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Pros: universal, all types of cables included, no battery, sound quality, native drivers
Cons: no LED
Following few succesfull tries in extra-portable HiFi audio converters, Hidizs have just released their new and more powerful tiny HiRes device — S8 HiFi Decoder. This is trully portable and universal audio decoder that supports most of the popular types of operating systems, HiRes certified and capable of decoding 32bit/384kHz PCM & DSD256 (natively). In contrary to previous and popular series of Sonata HD cable decoders, Hidizs has developed a new firmware that doesn’t require to take a decision on the forced mode of resulting audio quality by uploading different FW. S8 can be used «as it is», supporting any types of audio streams and giving out the best quality it is capable of with no extra steps required from a user.



Hidizs S8 technical specifications:
  • DAC: CS43131
  • DSD: 64/128/256 HW
  • PCM: 32bit/384kHz
  • Output: 30mW + 30mW @ 32Ω
  • FR respone: 20-50kHz
  • THD+N: 0.002% @ 1kHz
  • SNR: 120dB
  • Channel Separation: 120dB @ 32Ω
  • Output impedance: <1Ω
  • Recommended resistance: 8-150Ω
  • Buttons: Volume +/-
  • Audio jack: SE 3.5mm /mic supported
  • Connecting cables: Lightning/Type-C/Micro-USB/USB Type-A
  • Device port: Micro-USB
  • Weight: 9g
  • Material: aluminum-alloy + glass


For those who are familizar with previous Sonata HD converters, S8 has quite different design and architecture. It has larger dimensions and should be considered as an extra device connected to your smartphone rather than just a cable with DAC chip. S8 is still a tiny DAC and weights only 9g. Moreover, it features micro-USB port instead of having an integrated cable.



There were some complaints from the user of prior Sonata series about the possibility to exchange the integrated cable… No problems with that anymore. Volume buttons add to the overall ease of use as well. Although, there is still no LED indicators or other elements that would signal that the device is in use or powered.



Design wise, S8 feels very sturdy and elegant. Modern combination of one-piece aluminum shell and glass on the back with additional curved and shaped corners. Just a few elements on the case — volume buttons raising above the surface, 3.5mm SE audio output at the top edge and micro-USB at the bottom edge. No power button — S8 powers up automatically when connected to any audio source.



The purpose of S8 has not changed — turning any audio source equipped with USB A|Type-C|Micro-USB|Lightning ports into HiRes audio device capable of native reproduction of PCM 32bit|384kHz / DSD256 format by the means of a tiny adapter that would not consume excessive space in your pocket. Furthermore, pro-level DAC chip and extra output power would create more potential to drive most of the headphones or IEMs than bare output of a smartphone|laptop or other portable and universal devices. As we asll know, some laptops and tablets would not even come close to what we mean by a term «HiRes audio».



Their outputs are weak, don’t have enough driving power, don’t have enough volume and the sound is evidently blurred. This is exactly where Hidizs S8 converter might come to a rescue — the best way to upgrade the resulting audio quality. It is small, universal, doesn’t require additional power supply, doesn’t consume additional space — just an adapter between your device and headphones.



One of the main features of this product is its box contents. S8 comes with 4 types of cables:
  • Lightning -> micro-USB
  • micro-USB -> micro-USB
  • micro-USB -> USB Type-C
  • micro USB -> USB A
those connectivity options should cover most of the usage case scenarios. Moreover, S8 supports iOS, MacOS, Windows and Android. No drivers needed. All of the operating systems would recognize S8 as an audio output device and would allow to use all of its features. I have personally tried to use it with Windows 10 laptop and Android 8 smartphone. In both cases it was natively recognized by OS and allowed up to 32bit|384kHz PCM stream. The only note from Hidizs is to connect headphones to S8 prior to connecting it to the source device. Otherwise, S8 might not be recognized correctly.



Hidizs has also mentioned that the FW in S8 might be upgraded in future but has not explained the process. Hope to see such instructions and furter FW in the nearest future. Although, there is no necessaity to upgrade right now as S8 works perfectly with no observable glitches.



Sound quality:

Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 3.5mm own output VS S8 adapter connected to micro-USB:

The pure winner is S8.

Original Xiaomi audio output is muted and have some tube feel. Its power is low and not enough to drive 48Ohms Audio-Technica ATH M50 studio monitor headphones. Volume is low. Sound gets distorted at higher volume levels.



With Hidizs S8 connected the sound gets much juicy: volume gets higher, driving potential allows more mid bass tightness. Lows would get more contoured, tube feel would go away. Good improvement is apparent in in crispness and resolution of higher frequencies. More details and scene depth would get apparent. For this usage scenario, S8 is a way better than the regular audio output of this smartphone.

Lenovo Y500 (Intel HD audio integrated sound card) VS Hidizs S8 connected to USB A:

The winner is Hidizs S8.

The difference in the audio quality is still apparent, although not that impressive. S8 is able to deliver more resolution, details and more driving ability to full-sized headphones. Sound is more crisp and bright. Although, this laptop audio output is much closer to S8 in nature than Xiaomi smartphone. But still lacking power and looses out some details.



Conclusion:

Creating HiRes audio adapters is trending now. While smartphone and laptop manufacturers remove 3.5mm audio outputs — there is a growing demand from people who still want to have the best audio quality on the go. If having the additional HiRes DAP is not an option — the only possible solution is devices like Hidizs S8. Taking into the consideration previous and quite successfull attempts by Hidizs in a form of Sonata HD cable — this method really works. Some additional features, better DAC ship and more friendly operation makes Hidizs S8 more attracting and almost ideal. Furthermore, the final audio quality is really outperforming bare smartphone & laptop outputs and prove that S8 trully serves its main purpose.

Official S8 page and store: LINK
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Captainbeefturd
Hi, good review. Am I right in thinking that the has the exact same internals as the Tempotec Sonata HD Pro? It shares the same chip, same specs, same compatibility and same form but not the same price

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