Hidizs S9

darmanastartes

500+ Head-Fier
Two-Headed Dragon
Pros: powerful, clean, and transparent sound, balanced and unbalanced outputs at the same price point as either/or competitors, compact
Cons: high power consumption, middle of the pack heat management, included USB C-C cables are crimes against God and Benson Leung
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The Hidizs S9 is a compact digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and amplifier combination unit which connects to the source devices via USB-C. The S9 is the first Hidizs product I have reviewed since the AP60II digital audio player. Unlike the balanced output E1DA 9038S and the single-ended output E1DA 9038D which I recently reviewed, the Hidizs S9 incorporates both a single-ended 3.5mm audio jack and a 2.5mm balanced connection.
This review is also available on my blog: https://medium.com/bedrock-reviews/hidizs-s9-review-617eaeb2af6
The Hidizs S9 was provided to me for review by HiFiGo, where it is available for purchase starting at $109.
PACKAGING AND ACCESSORIES:
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The Hidizs S9 comes in a rectangular black box featuring a line art illustration of the device on the top lid. Technical specifications for the S9 are provided in English and Chinese on the back of the box. In addition to the device itself, the box contains a manual, a 10% off promotional discount card for Hidizs’ webstore, a warranty card, and a quality control pass chit.
In its base configuration, the Hidizs S9 includes two USB C-C cables in different lengths. These cables are the single worst aspect of the S9 as a product. Contrary to both USB-IF specifications and common sense understanding of how USB-C cables are supposed to work, the S9’s included cables only work in one direction. One of the USB-C connectors has a purple coloring on the interior of the plug. This end needs to be plugged into the S9 in order for the transport device to power and recognize the S9. If the purple end is plugged into the transport device, the cable does not deliver power or data. I have tried using these cables with other USB-C DAC/AMPs, and the result is the same. Thankfully, the S9 works fine with generic, correctly-implemented USB C-C cables. The S9 also includes a USB-A male to USB-C female adapter, which I will note also breaks USB-IF specifications.
POWER DELIVERY:
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Both of the Hidizs S9’s outputs are incredibly powerful. When the S9 is connected to a Windows PC, the SeeAudio Yume reaches usable listening volume out of the single-ended output at the 10/100 setting. The balanced output powers the harder-to-drive Moondrop S8 to a similar volume level at the 12/100 setting. Because I am confident that the S9 would blow out the drivers of a connected IEM at its maximum output level, it is hard for me to tell just how powerful it is. It is not clear to me whether the S9’s volume ramping model is different than that of the E1DA dongles I have tested, or whether the S9 is simply more powerful. I have not heard hiss with the 9038D even with multi-balanced armature in-ear monitors.
POWER CONSUMPTION:
The following power consumption measurements were taken while the Hidizs S9 was in use:
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Windows PC (USB-A to USB-C)
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Android Smartphone (USB C-C)
While power consumption appears to vary based on the paired transport device, it does not seem to vary based on whether the unbalanced or balanced output is being used. The power draw is higher than the balanced output E1DA 9038S Gen 3:
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The power draw is also far higher than that of the gold standard for USB-C audio devices, the Apple dongle:
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For this reason, I recommend using the Hidizs S9 either with a dedicated music transport device, preferably with a large battery, or with a PC.
The Hidizs S9 is mediocre in terms of heat management. While it does not get nearly as hot nearly as quickly as the Cozoy Takt C or xDuoo Link, it does get warm to the touch after a full workday of use. This is in contrast to the E1DA 9038 variants, which remain cool to the touch even if left connected for days on end with standby mode disabled.
SOUND AND CLOSING WORDS:
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(3.5mm unbalanced output)
I have no complaints when it comes to the sound quality of the Hidizs S9. It sounds exactly the way a competently designed product at this price point should, which is to say, transparent.
If your intent is to listen to music and not gear, I don’t feel that either comparably priced E1DA 9038 variant is appreciably superior or inferior to the Hidizs S9 in terms of sound quality. If you are dead-set on listening to the source device, it is worth noting that unlike the 9038 variants, the S9’s digital filter selection is locked down. As I noted in my E1DA 9038D and 9038S reviews, I find different types of digital filters to sound audibly distinct from one another when holding all other conditions constant, including the transducer, volume, and specific musical passage. However, the differences I can hear between digital filters are subtle, and I personally would not purchase an E1DA product over the S9 purely on the basis of filter switching.
The Hidizs S9 differentiates itself from other options at this price point mainly through having both 3.5mm single-ended and 2.5mm balanced outputs on a single device comparable in both size and price to competitors that only offer one type of output. Importantly, S9’s unbalanced output is completely usable as opposed to being an afterthought. Some of the S9’s competitors offer superior heat management or more efficient power draw requirements, but it is difficult to argue with the value proposition the S9 presents.
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The Hidizs S9 can be purchased below:
Hidizs S9 Balanced & Single-ended Mini HiFi DAC & Headphone AMP — HiFiGo
Last edited:
jsmiller58
jsmiller58
Using UAPP I finally got the S9 to show Yellow while playing a DSD file. I had to go into UAPP setting and change from native DSD to DoP (DSD over PCM). I was also able to fix this on HiBy Music by in Settings enabling Exclusive HQ USB audio access.
M
mastino
Does anyone know the power output of this compare to dragonfly cobalt? Because i’m looking for portable dac/amp that able to power aeon rt closed
Mediahound
Mediahound
@mastino This is way better than the AQ Cobalt despite power.

Linnod

New Head-Fier
Hidizs S9. The bright one.
Pros: Relatively good high frequencies
Relatively small
Cons: No control buttons
Poor low and mid frequencies
The device comes in a black box with an iridescent embossing. On the front, the company logo flaunts, the name of the DAC - S9 - and the outline of the device. On the bottom you can see the characteristics. Inside the "whistle" is used DAC AK4493EQ, connector - USB C. There are two colors to choose from: black and white.

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The set is quite rich. Inside we will find:
  • DAC itself
  • 2 USB-C cables (one shorter, the other longer)
  • Clip case
  • Adapter USB-C to USB-A
  • Various waste paper
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The device itself has a relatively small size, a steel frame and plastic (and very quickly smudged) front and back panels. On one end there is a type-c connector, on the other - 2.5mm (balance) and 3.5mm outputs. There are no buttons or other controls. In general, the device looks rather strict and sipaty. As for me, it will not be a shame to even wear such a jacket. :) By the way, the logo is highlighted (at night, I think it will be annoying).

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Unfortunately, I didn't like the device at all in terms of sound. Absolutely sluggish and boring low frequencies. The strings sound boring, there is a lack of overtones. On heavy music, guitars lack aggression. For me personally, listening to such a sound is boring and uninteresting.

In general, to my ear, the device is completely undeserving of attention. Very sorry. It looks like the only thing that Hidizs really does really well is their AP100 player. Then they turned the wrong way. In any case, this was just my opinion about this device. :)

Comparison with xDuoo Link 2:
At the same time with xDuoo I had Hidizs S9 and was able to compare them with each other. The strongest part of Hidizs is high frequencies, but mid and bass are the weakest. When choosing between these two devices, I will definitely prefer a product from xDuoo. It is close to me in spirit in terms of sound, it is more functional as a "whistle", and they cost about the same. In any case, it's up to you to decide. :)

Both devices are available here for about the same price.
jsmiller58
jsmiller58
Has anyone observed an LED color other than green, regardless of the format / bit rate being played?
jsmiller58
jsmiller58
Using UAPP I finally got the S9 to show Yellow while playing a DSD file. I had to go into UAPP setting and change from native DSD to DoP (DSD over PCM). I was also able to fix this on HiBy Music by in Settings enabling Exclusive HQ USB audio access.

zenki

500+ Head-Fier
Hidizs S9
Pros: - Clean Sound Quality
- 3.5mm & 2.5mm connection
- Portability
- Linux support
Cons: - No hardware volume button
- No micro usb to usb-c adapter/cable provided
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TL;DR
If you don't use demanding earphones, you can use this as your all-in-one DAC/AMP.
No need for separate desktop/portable DAC/AMP.

Package
S9, 2x usb-c cable, full usb to usb-c adapter, pocket clip

Build
Aluminium. Smooth, cool and clean. Feels nice to touch.

First thought/What to expect
Velvet Sound because it's AK.

TEST TOPIC
1. Sound Quality (SQ)
2. Power Consumption
3. Heat

TEST EQUIPMENT
Android micro-usb, Android usb-c, PC Linux. You'll probably need micro-usb to usb-c adapter OTG adapter for older mobiles. PC setup done with the provided accessories from the box.

SOUND QUALITY
Very good sound quality, clear without distortion. Can't notice the difference to desktop setup or without using DAC/AMP but I prefer the S9 sound output. Huh? Eh? Whuttt... Anyway it's probably a brain thingie.

POWER CONSUMPTION
ANDROID
~63 minutes => ~15% battery consumption on Hiby App on Android micro-usb.
~46 minutes => ~8% battery consumption on Hiby App on Android usb-c. (may not be accurate because test got interrupted)
AIMP also works.

LINUX
Doesn't apply but let me say a few things. Linux support is truly good. Plug and play, completely bypass the OS master volume and interacts directly with the audio player volume.
HEAT
Using Hiby, it runs cool, barely warm after ~1 hour.
Using AIMP, the thing heats up fast. It gets hot. Probably becauses AIMP doesn't have the USB DAC support?

Closing thought
Does the job as expected. For the price it's definitely worth it for the DAC/AMP + 2 connections. 2.5mm connection will be tested later maybe. Too bad can't really do more demanding tests since no nitpicky/demanding cans/earphones. So where's the Velvet?

Verdict

5/5 as far as SQ goes, but overall 4.5/5.
jsmiller58
jsmiller58
Has anyone observed an LED color other than green, regardless of the format / bit rate being played?
Z
zenki
I think it's purple/white when it was first connected.
jsmiller58
jsmiller58
Using UAPP I finally got the S9 to show Yellow while playing a DSD file. I had to go into UAPP setting and change from native DSD to DoP (DSD over PCM). I was also able to fix this on HiBy Music by in Settings enabling Exclusive HQ USB audio access.

IryxBRO

500+ Head-Fier
Hidizs S9 — unique ultra portable DAC&AMP
Pros: great balanced sound, no charging needed, portable, no lag in videos, great design
Cons: master->slave cable
What innovations in ultra portable personal audio products to expect now when most of the popular brands have already exploded with their interpretations of HiRes smartphone / laptop companions — smallest DACs & AMPs… Plenty of formfactors, equipped with screen or extra buttons, different connectivity options out of the box, with and without the battery — choose whatever you like. Despite all of that, Hidizs with their new ultra portable audio product has found one more way to differentiate and intrigue — Hidizs S9 has both single ended and balanced outputs on board!

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Hidizs S9 technical specifications:
  • DAC chip: AK4493EQ (new generation premium 32-bit 2ch DAC with VELVET SOUND technology)
  • THD+N: 113dB
  • Dynamic range: 123dB
  • Output power: 90mW SE | 125mW Balanced
  • PCM: 32bit|768kHz
  • Native DSD: up to 512
  • Outputs: 3.5mm SE + 2.5mm Balanced
  • Indicator light: multi LED, sync with sampling rate
  • Supports: Windows, Mac OS, iPad OS, Android
  • Hi-Res Audio 10 certification
  • Shell material: aluminum with glass panels
  • Size LxWxD: 6 x 1.7 x 1.1cm
  • Weight: 12g
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Packaging and design:

Hidizs S9 comes neatly packed in relatively small black matt box with shiny silver logo and specifications imprints. Traditional package by Hidizs for the most of their products.

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Inside the box you would find S9 DAC resting on the special soft insert and list of additional accessories hidden underneath. Box contents consist of:
  • S9 DAC&AMP
  • transparent plastic holder / clip
  • USB type C -> USB type C cable (65см)
  • USB type C -> USB type C cable (15см)
  • USB type C -> USB A adapter
  • leaflets, cards…
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S9 is a small unit (close to AA battery size) but still shows quite complicated design. It’s shell is made of aluminum (CNC) whereas both front and back sides are covered with glass panels.

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Such approach is inherited from other Hidizs products and reflects the design principles of this brand. Personally, I like such combination which adds the value to the device in terms of overall feel.

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There are no buttons and no screen, side edges are left free of any elements. USB type-C port is located at the bottom edge and both SE & Balanced ports are situated one over the other on the thickest part of the shell — its top edge.

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The only indication that S9 is currently in use is represented by semi transparent Hidizs logo under the front glass panel. Not only it gets lit (purple) upon incoming power supply, but also its color is synchronized with the sampling rate of the currently played track.

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Plastic clip / holder that comes as a part of the bundle is really great accessory. It securely holds S9 at place, protects it from physical impacts and allows to attach it to clothes. It doesn’t limit the connectivity or usability of this device.

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Both short and long cables are similar — soft and flexible transparent braid, aluminum type-C connectors and banding protection at both sides. USB type-C -> USB A adapter is applicable whenever someone wants to connect to laptop or PC.

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Hidizs S9 in use:

Fortunately, most of the current Android based smartphone platforms (as well as iOS) already support OTG connection and feeding audio through it. No additional drivers are needed, everything is plug&play. The only question is that it seems that both cables have host and slave sides (host is connected to a smartphone, marked with Hidizs logo) and would not work other way around. This also raises the question of cable compatibility in future if original one would fail or get lost one day…

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Anyway, just connect it (LED indicator on S9 should get lit), run your favorite music app (I am using HiBy Music) and hit PLAY button. From the opposite side — headphones — S9 would automatically switch between SE / Balanced depending of the current physical connection. Furthermore, unlike many other DAC&AMPs — this device doesn’t have any battery inside and relies on the power fed by USB. Great that there is no need to charge it independently but the battery of your smartphone would drain faster.

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By the time of writing this review Hidizs has not yet provided any dedicated Windows ASIO driver for S9. It is now being recognized by Windows 10 as USB DAC with its native driver and allows all sound to be passed to it with no obvious audible lag between video and audio streams. Which is great. Traditionally, ASIO driver that would probably show up soon would have better (if you can differentiate it) audio quality but the situation with the lag would get worse. I would recommend to use native Windows 10 driver and avoid installing additional TUSB ASIO drivers.

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Sound quality:

Tested with Xiaomi Redmi Note 8Pro, Lenovo Y500, Hidizs Seeds SE and Hidizs Seeds Balanced versions of IEMs.

As expected, in overall the impression of the sound quality of Hidizs S9 is close to what one should expect from the entry level HiRes DAP — much, much better than regular smartphone output, significantly better than regular laptop output and little bit behind of what such DAP as AP80, for instance, may offer. Smartphone lacks the clarity, resolution and power, its sound is quite blurred, weak and mixes up all instruments, especially at higher volume. Laptop holds better but lacks the overall clarity, bass extension and mid bass power.

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S9 improves almost every aspect of the sound of both devices. It sounds more neutral but at the same time more transparent and holistic. Mid bass gets the appropriate power and tight feel, both frequency response ends are more extended while their textures get more pronounced.

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As to the 3.5mm SE V/S 2.5mm Balanced comparison: here I can say that the best analogy would be as if you switch from gain low to gain high. +30% of power create more driving potential and deliver more juicy sound, especially obvious at lower volume. Moreover, not compromising the noise floor. By the way, the background stays dark with both outputs, any interference from a smartphone has not been observed either.

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Conclusion:

Current amount of ultra-portable HiRes DAC&AMPs on the market makes it quite confusing to take a right choice of the most appropriate option. Hidizs S9, apart of being based on mighty DAC chip and having highly competitive specifications, has its own unique feature that positively differentiates it from its closest rivals. Having both — SE and Balanced — outputs addresses more audio fans, gives more freedom in IEMs / headphone selection, significantly increases the output power and improves the driving potential. This is one of the most unique, handsome and powerful ultra-portable DAP&AMPs that has ever been rolled out to masses until now. Happy to possess and gone for the further experiments

Soon available here: https://www.hidizs.net/products/hidizs-s9-balanced-single-ended-mini-hifi-dac-amp

Official Hidizs Amazon store: LINK
10% discount for any item at Hidizs store using our promocode at Hidizs official store: ZMCR10
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IryxBRO
IryxBRO
@giosuebox it might be true as HiBy Music is the only "native" app for Hidizs and HiBy products. It recognizes such devices in a best possible way and sends bit perfect stream over USB. HiBy and Hidizs would not guarantee that it would work similarly with third-party apps
jsmiller58
jsmiller58
Using UAPP I finally got the S9 to show Yellow while playing a DSD file. I had to go into UAPP setting and change from native DSD to DoP (DSD over PCM). I was also able to fix this on HiBy Music by in Settings enabling Exclusive HQ USB audio access.
giosuebox
giosuebox
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