Hidizs, the brand based out of China is a well established brand in the ChiFi audio industry producing Dac, Amps, In Ear Monitors, Cables. Their Mermaid earphones are one of the best in the game and the S9 pro dac is also a great performing one. The S3 Pro being in a budget ground let’s check out how this performs against the crowd.
This unit has been provided to me as a part of a review circle organised by the team HiFiGo. The whole views are based on my pairings and sources hence it might differ from person to person.
MQA Support: X8
Sampling Rate Indicator Light: Supported
D/A Chip: ESS ES9281C PRO
Sampling Frequency: Up to 32Bit/384kHz
DSD: Up to 128
Output: Single-ended 3.5mm headphone port
Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise: 0.0008%
Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 117dB
Channel Separation: 70dB
Frequency Response: 20Hz-40kHz (±0.1dB)
Output Power: LR 55mW@32Ω 3.5mm SE
Power Connector: Type-C
Supported Systems: Windows 10, Mac OS, iPad OS, Android, iOS or newer systems.
(For iOS users, the Lightning OTG cable has to be purchased separately)
DESIGN AND BUILD:
The design is pretty unique in the S3 Pro and that’s what makes this price a modern looking one. The whole construction is made out of metal except the cable which is nicely braided and will last longer for sure. Nice strain reliefs are provided on both the termination and connector end.
The termination end is nicely designed having a circular shape with disc pattern on the top also accompanying a small LED indicator.
The S3 pro comes with a little LED light mounted on top of the connector area to indicate the sample rate at which the track is being played and the colour indication as follows: Red- 44.1 – 48 kHz, Blue- 88.2 – 384 kHz, Pink- MQA.
The S3 Pro has the dac from the house of ESS namely ESS9281C which supports playback of 8X MQA, DSD128, and 32bit/384KHZ PCM audio. The Dac also has the inline mic functionality hence that’s an added advantage.
The firmware upgrades are the BASS, BALANCED, TREBLE which can be chosen by the user by flashing the respective firmwares.
The overall output if the S3 Pro is more on a clean and natural presentation overall without any bug amount of added colouration. The S3 Pro comes in three modes namely the Bass, Default and Treble mode where if you need to change the profile you must update the respective firmware to the dongle.
My whole sound observations are made using the default mode where the other two increased their respective frequencies quite noticeably.
The low end in the S3 Pro sounds a lot tighter, faster and clean. There is subtle reduction in the rumble quantity and reach in the sub bass region but still the bass quality has been consistent and beautiful. The texture and the clarity was very good with excellent separation in the low end.
Overall technicality aspects of the low end are beautifully presented in the S3 Pro while the quantity is the only aspect where the S3 Pro misses out but still it’s quite fun and engaging in the low end department. If the sub bass reach and rumble was increased in the default mode then it would have been perfect and if you still wish to have more just update the bass firmware to the S3 Pro.
The midrange sounds beautiful with no added colouration to the tonality and timbre. The vocals sound nice and forward with natural tonality. The instrument separation was presented out neatly without any sort of compression since the staging was kept the same. The timbre of the instruments is presented really well without any artificial, metallic or dried out sense.
The upper midrange was kept under control too hence no harshness or hotness is seen in this region where the female vocals are kept without any noticeable sibilance.
The treble has a slight hint of added warmth making them more pleasing hence the treble heads out there will be slightly disappointed, but here’s the trick where if you change the firmware to the Treble mode the treble will sound more pleasing and bright enough.
The treble in the default mode sounds smoother to correlate with the longer listening sessions. All those percussion instruments notes are presented well and clean without any hindrance. The cymbal crashes have that natural strike and splash. Overall the treble sounds more pleasing and smoother and if you are in need for more brightness then just flash the firmware to the treble mode which will definitely bring a big smile on your face.
The technical aspect delivered by the S3 Pro is very good especially the clarity , separation and the layering effect. The placement of the instruments are precisely done without any congestion. The staging being presented as actual the presentation felt clean and wide enough for the instruments to be separated out.
The power output in the S3 Pro is pretty nominal rated 55mW @ 32 ohms. The output may not look big considering the competition out there which can deliver 1.5x the power for half the price but the S3 Pro just nails it when it comes to the overall presentation.
Most of the earphones can be driven via this except some power demanding headphones and planar earphones out there. The other aspect that S3 Pro nails is in the power draw where it just uses a very minimal amount of power from the source hence that’s a big plus! The dongle doesn’t get heat even after extended periods of usage.
PROS AND CONS:
- Clean and Transparent Sound
- 8X MQA and DSD Support
- Three Firmware Modes
- Minimal Power Draw
- Sleek Design
- Power Output
S3 Pro, the latest dongle offering from the house of Hidizs which has already released quite a bit of DAC, Amps is a well rounded package overall. Especially the clean transparent sound, three firmwares, sleek design, minimal power draw, MQA support makes this Dongle a solid buy for the audiophiles out there waiting to get a reliable and sleek looking dongle. The added functionality like the Mic support gives this dongle an added advantage in the competition.
Overall the S3 Pro is a MODERN TRANSPARENT piece considering its sound which is as transparent as possible and the looks which is modern, sleek making this Dongle Dac a solid purchase in the current competition.
This Review is Written By KATHIRAVAN.C
I’m Kathiravan from Tamilnadu. A budding audiophile here with high love towards music and audio equipment. My first experience of enjoying the hifi audio came when I started to use budget chi-fi gears and now it came all along the way of reviewing the gears with high end stuffs. I love reviewing audio products.