The Hidizs S8 is a DAC/Amp in a small dongle format design to be compatible with PCs, MACs, iOS, and Android devices. It is priced at $89.
Disclaimer: The Hidizs S8 sent to us is a sample in exchange for our honest opinion. We thank the team at Hidizs for giving us this opportunity.
Hidizs has been pumping out some solid budget to middle-tier products, haven’t they? I enjoy a rebrand every now and then, but after a third one, I am not so sure anymore. However, this is a unique case where a DAC that I’ve heard twice before from this company has been used in a different way. I applaud them for that innovation attempt.
Packaging & Accessories
This DAC is tiny and I meant it…super tiny It much smaller than the DragonFly and also smaller than the older AudioEngine D3. Personally, this is the smallest non-pencil-shaped DAC that I’ve ever reviewed.
You ever use those Listerine breath freshener strips? This S8 is almost the exact same size as one of those! Its absurdly small, but in a good way. The box is small and basic, nothing to write home over. However, the inside holds some unexpected goodies.
Included is a USB Micro-B for usage via a PC, a Micro-C intended for usage with Android devices and also a Lightning-enabled adapter as well for iOS users. Hidizs got you covered regardless of how you want to use this S8.
The S8 itself is aluminum, very thin, but at least it doesn’t feel like trash. I consider it more than acceptable here because of the size, it could have easily been entirely plastic nonsense. So, I am thankful it isn’t abysmal quality and that they’ve opted for a very good build, all things considered.
The unit only has 2 buttons for volume. An off/on switch is absent, as are any other buttons. Beyond that, there is only a micro-B port and a 3.5mm output. Wiggling these ports resulted in no serious problems, so they are stable and well soldered from the looks of it.
The included 3 sets of cables are lovely and put out a custom vibe. I really enjoy them. Gods honest, I’ll be using them to replace the trashy cables that will come with all future products like this. These cables are keepers!
In all seriousness, these stock cables that come with it are of high quality and something I really didn’t expect, so thank Hidizs for even including them…because we are on a trek right now in Audiophile Land where companies sometimes don’t even provide power cables.
The Tempotec Sonata was basically a rebrand of the DH1000 from Hidizs and that kind of upset me, having a double review of it and only finding out after I received the product without specs that it was a near clone of the previous DH1000, with a new battery and some minor tweaks.
Right now, this will almost be the third time I’ve reviewed this product because the S8 uses the same DAC as the Sonata. Although, this time, there are huge differences in the physical appearance of both.
When plugged into the PC and used as a DAC through a Windows OS, the adapter display appears as “Sonata”. This is, at least for fidelity reasoning, a triple review of the same product. I’m not exactly happy about that, but at least there are other things to actually speak of, due to the DH1000 vs the Tempotec Sonata almost only having the difference of an exterior case variant between them.
I am not fond, at all, of the CS43131. In fact, I really dislike this entire family of chips. They are old and way too common now. I need to see sonic-fidelity innovation and how this chip can be used differently and with an audibly different outcome, as between this and the Sonata, I hear near 0% difference and attribute the potential difference to placebo.
As with the Sonata, I run with +10dB on Foobar2000s realbassexciter.dsp and I only end up with moderate levels of bass. The bass depth on this circuit is subpar. I’d much rather opt for a used solid DAP for a bit more than this, one with a great DAC inside and just use that as my DAC.
I feel like that is a better option than plugging into my phone and ruining my talk time battery while I listen to music on a phone that likely doesn’t even have MicroSD card support. A solid portable dedicated music player is the better option if you want bass, because, unless you are using Hiby’s music app and their amazing MSEB DSP’s, then why bother?
What fidelity that is there, is very nice for the price, there is no doubt about that. In fact, using this as a PC DAC to a great amplifier yields great results, just as the Sonata and DH1000 did. I’ve found that a +5dB standard benchmark for bass increase via realbassexciter does almost nothing for the experience, which means that the responsiveness to EQ and alterations is not suitable in the modern era.
If you don’t care for bass and prefer a neutral tone, then you can ignore all of that. The overall quality of the low end is very nice. The lacking feature is responsiveness and depth factor. It is the same as the Sonata…because this technically is a Sonata and DH1000.
Once again, the midrange is fantastically bloomed and forward, which is great for most Audio Technica models out there with a focus on mids. Speakers or headphones, in general, with a focus on bountiful mids and lush experiences that are vibrant and engaging, are very well suited for this DAC. However, this DAC is extremely low power and hardly runs my HD650 for usage with any DSD tracks.
Usually, DSD tracks are going to play at a lower volume and require a higher amplification than let us say a normal FLAC file of the same recording. Maxed out, 100% on my source (phone or the PC) as well as maxed out S8 results in something that has trouble with the 300Ω Sennheiser HD650.
Forget it if you have anything in that range. This DAC, as most of the tiny DAC’s out there, tend to be, are only solid for efficient headphones. You won’t be running this with an older Planar and getting a good outcome. The output power of this is staggeringly less than the DH1000 and the Sonata.
Side by side with its mates, I hear no difference between them. The only difference I can really pick up on is not in the way of fidelity or quality but in slight tonal heft and substance. The S8 feels a bit thinner, but because I cannot run it through a dedicated amplifier and the internal amp is not powerful.
I am relying on the power output of the S8 and nothing more to drive headphones. So, I am forced to use some very efficient headphones and with that comes an issue of physicality.
For example, the HD650 properly amped sounds way better than the HD650 under-amped. More power equates to a more solid, lush and vibrant density factor. With efficient headphones, this usually is not the case unless it is a Planar. You don’t tend to feel a treble difference when running an efficient Dynamic driver headphone on unamped vs very well amped. You probably shouldn’t drop that extra voltage into efficient headphones, to begin with.
Anyway, the results I came away with were unsurprising. The S8 has issues with density and thickness, as does the Sonata. What I do enjoy is the gentleness of the top end, it is very reserved in tactility and strike factor, but not lacking quantity. What is there, is very good in quality for the price and I enjoy the lack of wince factor on tracks I know to be quite harsh.
As I said in my Sonata review, the top end here is something I enjoy very much and wish I had more of in other products. I feel the same about this S8 as well because they sound identical when fed through the same source and an efficient headphone. I failed blind testing. It is only when you get not so efficient headphones that this becomes overwhelmingly superior as a whole with the DH1000 and the Sonata, but that is because they actually have a powerful amp circuit and are about 5x as large.
Coherency is a strong point of Hidizs. Pretty much all of their products feel like the Beyerdynamic T1: so good in every way and lacking nowhere, but also not immense in any specific viewpoint.
They are coherency titans, the spacious bubble and void of sound is lacking nothing, but also not projecting anything in more quantities than any other avenue of the experience. This is a great thing for neutral enthusiasts, due to the fact the height of the image doesn’t interfere with the width factor, or that the separation of instruments and air factors are not oddly setup compared to the depth of field experience.
What you get is a solid overall sound stage and imaging display, even for a tiny DAC like this. But, just as I mentioned before, the lacking quality of the experience is solidity. That density factor is not doing the imaging and fidelity of this product justice, it just feels too thin to justify the very nice quality around it.
You can fix that with a great amp. I recommend this DAC as a DAC and a sometimes thing to use with a phone. But, not as a primary home DAC and AMP solution. Used as just a DAC and connected to a nicer Burson amp? The experience is lovely. It is a solid midrange solution in that regard, without having to buy an actual midtier DAC. We’ve hit that point in tech where budget today means midtier of yesteryear.
Ok, look. Three times is enough here, but I reward this company for trying to do things with what they have and continue to do them well. I love this little thing as a mobile solution. You can tape this tiny little guy to your phone and enjoy some great DSD quality if your headphones are efficient.
I recommend this in droves to college students looking for the smallest DAC to save space or one they can tote easily to the library and study while listening to tunes. I also recommend this as a great stepping stone DAC for usage at home. Grab a good dedicated amp and connect the two. The result is very good.
As a raw DAC, the S8 is a great option. I feel the exact same about it as I do the Tempotec because it sounds nearly identical and has the same components inside, minus the powerful amp output of the DH1000 and the Sonata.
Hidizs S8 Specifications
- Sampling frequency: 384 kHzType:
- Portable DSD sampling frequencies: 11.2896 MHz (DSD256)
- Material: Metal
- USB Type C
- Model Number: S8
- Input format : FLAC / WAV / MP3 / APE
- Dimensions (W x H x D : 18.8 * 47 * 7.8mmD / A converter: CS43131 WIFI :
- Compatibility: Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10, iOS, Android USB