Hidizs S9 Pro – Amazing Sound with Style

2021 was the rise of the portable USB dongle (small form factor) DACs. Even big brands like THX (Onyx, the first product with the brand’s name), Astel&Kern (PEE51), Cayin (RU6) announced their first USB dongle DACs to bite a piece from this fast-growing market.

But why? The first reason is obvious, people started using online music streaming services in masses and thanks to Apple we have lost our 3.5mm headphone output jack from our phones since 2017. This triggered the need for USB-powered DACs. Second, the quality of streaming services got higher in years, for example, Apple and Amazon also joined for Lossless music streaming last year (after Spotify announced its future Lossless plan which we are still waiting for), and this also triggered the need for USB dongle DACs because for Lossless music we needed external (USB) DACs. And third, you just want to listen to your hi-res music archive with the best sound quality you want without spending lots of money on DAPs and use your phone or PC instead.

This competition led to better USB dongle DACs in time and now we have many options like balanced outputs (both 2.5mm and 4.4mm), dual flagship DAC chips, and even R-2R DAC solutions with significantly high-quality audio compared to the old models.

Hidizs is one of the first companies who started to make USB dongle DACs starting in 2018 with Hidizs Sonata HD and continued with models like S1, S3, S8, S9, S3 Pro, and lately the flagship model Hidizs S9 Pro.

HIDIZS S9 PRO REVIEW

The S9 Pro comes with a flagship DAC chip from ESS, the ES9038Q2M, and has a 3.5mm SE and a 2.5mm balanced dual headphone outputs. It’s also one of the most powerful dongle DACs on the market with 100mW@32Ω for 3.5mm and 200mW@32Ω for the 2.5mm balanced output. S9 Pro sells for 116$.

HIDIZS S9 PRO REVIEW

You get a USB – A adapter, a 10cm Type-C to Type-C cable, and a clear detachable back clip in the box.

Speaking of the cable, you need to be careful when connecting the S3 Pro to your phone. The side with the Hidizs logo should be plugged into your phone or it won’t power up. I know it’s weird, never happened to me before with any other Type-C to Type-C cable. First I thought that the cable is broken, but it’s not, that’s the way it is.

Another Hidizs logo, this time on the DAC, is also a LED indicator that lights up in different colors, synchronized with the sample rate of the music being played.

  • Yellow: DSD64/128
  • Purple: DSD256/512
  • Blue: PCM176.4/192 (Khz)
  • Red: PCM 352.8/384 (Khz)
  • White: PCM 705.6/768 (Khz)
  • Green: PCM 44.1/48/88.2/96 (Khz)

Hidizs S9 Pro supports PCM up to 32bit768kHz and Native DSD up to 512.

Specs

Dimensions 18 x 59 x 8mm
Net Weight 11g
MQA Support No
Sampling Rate Indicator Light Supported
DAC Chip ES9038Q2M
Sampling Frequency Up to 32Bit/384kHz
DSD Native DSD64/128/256/512
Single-Ended Headphone Output Rated Output Power L&R 100mW@32Ω
Frequency Response 20-50kHz
Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) 120dB (@32Ω)
Channel Separation 80dB (@32Ω)
Total Harmonic Distortion+Noise 0.0012% (@32Ω)
Balanced Headphone Output Rated Output Power L&R 200mW@32Ω
Frequency Response 20-50kHz
Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) 119dB (@32Ω)
Channel Separation 118dB (@32Ω)
Total Harmonic Distortion+Noise 0.0006% (@32Ω)

Sound

Hidizs S9 Pro sounds quite neutral and balanced, with no dramatic coloration to the sound, which is a very good thing as an end result. The overall signature can be described as really clean, crisp with no roll-off in the bass or treble, but with an excellent dynamic, a wide soundstage, and a great amount of details.  The S3 Pro is entirely silent, with no hiss or any background noise even with low impedance and sensitive IEMs.

The baseline goes deep but has a great amount of control, which makes bass notes sound firm and speedy. Lows are weighty but well defined, managing to provide a beefy base to the rest of the spectrum, but also a very good insight into bass notes’ details and texture. Moving a bit higher, mid-bass continues in the same fashion. There’s no bloating or blooming the be heard here, just well-judged and full-sounding notes.

The midrange is also praiseworthy as it successfully combines a full-bodied tone with plenty of micro-details. Vocals sound clear and present. There are plenty of details to be heard, sounds present and rich. The same, musical approach, continues in the highest region that offers plenty of fine details, but never in a sharp or tiring. The highest frequencies are crisp and make S3 Prot sound open and airy.

Sound-stage is reasonably wide, with a great sense of depth which you can expect from desktop DAC-AMPs. Add more than capable layering and instrument separation to it, and we have a class-leading performance on our hands.

Conclusion

Hidizs’ experience in portable dongle DACs shows itself on S9 Pro. We have a very stylish and amazing-sounding DAC-AMP here. With its One-Piece High-Density CNC Aluminum Body and led indicator under the logo it just looks very premium.

As for the performance, you get a desktop-grade clean, balanced, and detailed sound that you can carry anywhere you want. Mission accomplished.

I would like to thank Hidizs for sending me the review unit.

Hidizs Store (no affiliate)