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Hidizs Robin S8 pro review : Hitting the sweet spot

There are a lot of brands I haven’t worked with. In this booming world of audio products it’s hard to keep track of brands. I know, I know Hidizs is not new but they haven’t been able to capture the imagination of the market like other chi-fi brands. But it’s seems like this is about to change. They used to have a good range of DAPs but it’s limited to AP80 series now. What they have been belting out  are their USB dongles and IEMs and their new planar based IEM, MP145 housing a 14.5mm planar driver has taken the industry by storm. After the success of it, they have introduced a couple of USB dongles and the latest is the S8 pro Robin. Equipped with 3 buttons, built-in filters, metal housing and dual DAC chips its priced at only $60 and is powerful too. It’s not a thing I should mention but the S8 pro is a marked improvement over the S8 which lacked balanced out.

I have a couple of DDhifi USB DAC/amps to compare it with and the Simgot DEW 4X too.

Get one from here:

UNBOXING AND ACCESSORIES:

Just like most of the dongles S8 pro too has simple set of accessories but we get something interesting here. Take the paper cover off and just like the MP145, we get a hard case here, sadly it cant used as a carry case since it doest have any protective padding on the inside. The unboxing experience is straightforward. Take the top off and we have the dongle stuffed in foam, USB A and lightening adapters, USB cable and some documents are placed inside a paper box glued on the back of the foam. This is basically what we get with all the dongles at this price.

BUILD QUALITY:

I have to mention, S8 pro is not the smallest dongle in the market yet its fairly compact with a length of just 58mm, width of 23mm and depth of 11mm and weighs only 17g. Made with CNC aluminum alloy, S8 pro is super sturdy with very good build quality. For heat dissipation we get a winged design too. We get glass on back and front with a glowing Hidizs logo on the front that changes color with the type of music streamed and help with recognizing filters too. Like the DH80s, S8 pro too been has given a bit of special treatment with a 3 button remote. Yes these buttons look good and shiny, have very good tactile feel to them but they are a bit loose. I do wish the central round button was a wheel, just for the sake of it. It does exactly what it’s supposed to do and changes filters when both the volume up and down buttons are pressed simultaneously . The center button can play pause and skip tracks.

SPECIFICATIONS AND OPERATION:

Now now.. This dongle is loaded with stuff. Let’s start with the internals. It has dual CS43131 DACs for a fully balanced experience and can do 160mw per channel on balanced out and 80mw with single ended at 32 ohm. It can decode upto 384kHz, 32 bit and native DSD up to 256. This is good enough for most of the IEMs. I can easily extract around 10-12hrs from my S20 FE 5G.

Using S8 pro with PC is a piece of cake use the given adaptor, plug it in and you are good to go. Windows need drivers but MAC doesn’t.

Filters:

Okay, we have 6 filters on our hand. Let’s be clear, the yellow filter looks more orange and the white filter is light pink and unless you are comparing the red one with the pink or white, it’s not easy to tell them apart.

Red filter is the warmest of the lot with fuller notes with meatier notes and slightly less emphasis at the upper treble while the blue is the more balanced one with little to no boosting. Yellow and down notes start to lose body and can sound thin with extra bit of finishing energy at the top.

The is no way to know the current filter on use or skip filters though, if you want to go from Blue to Pink or vice versa one has to go through every other filters in between.

I suggest staying with green or blue filters and that’s it.

SOUND QUALITY:

I have been using this as my primary source and I can state that S8 pro is one of the best dongle around $100. Equipped with CS43131, it has one of the cleanest and detailed output and can take on budget DAPs with ease. It doesn’t try to tamper much with the sound but adds a bit of extra speed while keeping notes closer to reality. Unlike the Fiio KA3 it doesn’t introduce extra energy for finishing definition but relies on its stage size and technical abilities to bring forth the natural attack and transparency. It has a fairly neutral tonality with a bit of tilt towards precision. We get improved dynamics too.

Bass:

S8 pro has no emphasis with any part of the spectrum and that’s true for lows too. It has no filter that sounds thick or warm. It delivers a slightly faster decay while keeping the notes clear of any bloating or muddiness. Pair it with any IEM, S8 pro will extract a bit more extra definition and clarity with excellent layering and extension. Sub-bass extension is very good and doesnt hamper the natural rumble and air of the IEM. While the mid bass is not emphasized, S8 pro doesn’t restrict the area of impact or weight of the note, it does tighten them up, so, no extra meaty notes here. It controls the decay speed, sheds the extra weight, if any, to keep things super clean. Thanks to this, we get some of the best texture and details.

Mid range:

Mid range is where the clarity is exceptional, pick any instrument, they all exhibit class leading definition and clarity. Its separation and layering is better than both Shanling UA3 and Lotoo Paw S1. The whole mid range has clean and precise feel. Yes, the body is slightly on the tighter side, S8 pro trades a bit or warmth and cohesion for extra clarity and definition. It’s not thing or sharp by any mean but its not smooth and blunt like the UA3. Those who prefer precision and accuracy will find this intriguing while the other bunch looking for smoother and calmer notes will not find themselves complaining either. Vocals are very good, male vocals have very good texture with a throaty and fuller feeling. S8 pro’s precision help the female vocals retain the extra bit of definition and clarity. Compared to the UA3, S8 pro has better contrast of back and foreground and the sonics are much more developed too. Unlike the Fiio KA3, there are no thin or sharp notes to worry about at the upper mids.

Highs:

S8 pro is one of the best DAC/amps for treble. We get excellent extension and air. While the Fiio KA3 was aggressive and bity and UA3 was way too smooth, S8 pro balances this perfectly with high quality definition and transparency without getting sharp, thin, aggressive or agitated. S8 pro has a lively yet sibilance free treble region. It doesn’t have any piercing or uncomfortable attack to worry about. It’s not docile or dark but it’s not sharp or very energetic either. Thanks to the cleaner presentation we get high quality layering and separation is top notch.

STAGE AND IMAGING:

S8 pro is very good with its stage expansion. It has a well rounded stage with good X-axis width and excellent height. Z-axis depth is above average too. Imaging is something this little DAC/Amp is very good at, performing much better than both Shanling UA3 and Fiio KA3. It has the best imaging and accuracy from a dongle around $100 which includes Paw S1 too. All the instruments have very good positioning with one of the best airy presentation. We get very good dynamics and the stage can flex a bit to accommodate extra flexing of the already superb sonics. Instrument distribution is very good without any hollow or busier feeling at any region.

PAIRING WITH IEMS:

With Hidizs MP145:

This is one of the best IEMs under $200 and driving it is not a child’s play but to my surprise, this planar IEM doesn’t whine when paired with S8 pro. I have been using the red filter with the MP145 because of its effortless presentation. Its bass is a bit on the loose side with a warmer tone which gets neutralized by the S8 pro. We get slightly tighter notes, slightly less weight too but its dynamics improve. Mid range is a bit cleaner with better separation, no issues with tonality or timber either. Treble is a marked improvement, contrary to the darkish nature of the red filter, we get very good transparency, better clarity and improved air between instruments. Stage is a bit more expanded, especially the treble notes have much better movement.

In my opinion, it’s a winning combination.

With Dunu Falcon Ultra:

Now this is what might look like adding oil to Fire but guess what.. I am loving it. Falcon Ultra has one of the best resolution and definition with excellent balance and the S8 pro only enhances it, doesn’t exaggerate it. we get even better micro details and clarity.

And the opposite happens to the Falcon ultra, we get more bass body here, S8 pro brings in a bit weight too and a bit more texture tags along. Mid rage is slightly more even with , treble is nearly unchanged. S8 pro works like an enhancer here. Stage of the Falcon Ultra is already huge and the S8 pro enhances with added height and better Z-axis presence. This pairing is one of the most enveloping and attention grabbing pairings under $300.

CONCLUSION:

So.. Where does this budget, balanced DAC/amp dongle stands.. In my opinion, overall, this stands aside the Shanling UA3 and over the Fiio KA3 and if you are a purist and want excellent clarity, details and definition, Hidizs S8 pro is the only dongle you should consider. IT doesn’t misbehave with thin or sharp notes like the KA3 and doesn’t color the spectrum with warmth or brightness either.

I like the availability of filters, it can be useful but the problem is, adjacent filters sound nearly the same unless you are comparing with a distant filter. Another problem is lack of any software support. I will either like Hidizs to put a small display on the dongle or introduce APPs like Fiio and Shanling to make the dongles more user friendly.

Over all, S8 pro is a high quality budget dongle that puts clarity over musicality and while maintaining excellent balance. It hits the sweet spot for me, it isn’t warm, yet doesn’t try to overdo the details or brightness.

This is it guys, Thanks for reading. Drop you comments if you have any.

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ABOUT AUTHOR

Picture of Suman Sourav Meher

Suman Sourav Meher

My humble audiophile journey started in 2010, when I was in college, where I fell in love with the elements, nuances, and variations of this mesmerizing world. The ability of tiny earphones to recreate amazing sounds made my bad days tolerable and good days better! Now I am a full-time audiophile with a preference for musical tracks, especially vocals and engaging ones. I must admit I am addicted, but not to drugs or alcohol, but to earphones. Come join me as I share my experiences, bad or good, and let’s have some fun!

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