Hidizs S9 PRO

DAC Chip: ESS ES9038Q2M (Single)
PCM 32bit – 768khz DSD512, SNR: -120dB, Power: 200mW 32Ω, Type-C Female, 2.5mm BAL & 3.5mm SE (Microphone: No), Aluminum/Glass Chassis


LISTENING EQUIPMENT USED IMPARTED HUGE INFLUENCE TO SOUND IMPRESSIONS & RATING


💚PROS

  • Energetic neutral and natural airy smooth timbre, faithfully uncolored
  • Refined dynamics with well matured vibrancy
  • Reference grade coherence with pristine clarity and great transparency
  • Slightly spaced out Mids with rich textures and definition, realistic Male/Female vocals
  • Crisp smooth Treble with matured finesse, depth, extension, and textures
  • Richly textured Mid-Bass with commanding vibe and smooth decay
  • Deep, richly textured Sub-Bass with realistic decay
  • Excellent details retrieval, Macro and Micro. Smoothly nuanced
  • Realistic and crisp guitar, piano, cello, and bass guitar tones
  • Lively sounding percussions (chimes, bells) and realistic drums and taps
  • Wide soundstage with great depth and spacing.
  • Reference grade imaging, razor sharp precision with holographic spatial staging
  • Reference grade speed and transients handling, no hint of congestion
  • Zero floor noises with black background
  • Free of any coarseness or grainy edges overall
  • Immensely powerful SE and BAL output with commanding drive
  • Absolutely gorgeous sounding paired with literally anything.
  • Drives Tin HiFi P1 Magnetic Planar at 50/100 Volume with ease.

💔CONS

  • No hardware volume adjuster
  • Sub-Bass seismic decay could be a little bit crisper
  • Rare occasions may exhibit Treble sheen that can be perceived as peaky (on an already very resolving IEMs/Headphones)

VERDICT

Hidizs S9 Pro. The successor for the already great S9 is here. Hidizs intended for this S9 Pro to excel beyond S9 and they holistically succeeded in achieving it. The way they tuned and implemented ES9038Q2M for S9 Pro is the most refined example I have heard yet – considering I am very well versed with ES9038Q2M devices be it a DAP, Laptop DAC or other Dongles, S9 Pro took the crown. Credit must be given to Hidizs for such finesse in the way they tuned S9 Pro that it is so well balanced between technicality and musicality. This smoothness is a rarity among the typically bright natured ESS. S9 Pro very deftly picks up every detail without reservation, the better your IEMs/HPs resolves, the more details being presented. There’s beautiful balance of crispiness and airiness between layers which translates into soothing sonic pleasure. Bass presentation is as meaty as it gets with refined textures and tight control. It was a pain for me to identify and nit-pick for any weaknesses and all that I could muster is to say this S9 Pro can exhibit some Treble sheen on some recordings that would be regarded as shouty – and even that it would still not count as sibilant.

I just can’t resist myself from comparing this beautiful S9 Pro against my No.1 favorite, the Ovidius B1. And here’s what I found after almost 3 hours of A/B using all four of my favorite IEMs (Shure KSE1500, ER4SR, ER2XR and Heart Mirror):

  1. B1 have slightly more forward oriented presentation, S9 Pro a step back
  2. B1 slightly more rounded polished edged while S9 Pro crispy smooth edged
  3. B1 still a bit more brutally transparent while S9 Pro a bit more forgiving on the sources

Yes, it was painful for me to compare these two because they are both exceedingly stellar that even small differences usually meant they are just exhibiting their mild differences – not a question of which one is better over the other, it’s about which one appease to your taste better. Pick your poison! Hidizs S9 Pro effortlessly climbs into the top tier group without even blinking.

19 July 2021 Update:

#donglemadness Torture Test has been conducted on this S9 Pro, and it passed with flying colors. Driving FOSTEX T40RP MK3 91db Magnetic Planar (running on iPhone USB 2.0 via ddHiFi Adapter), just like the older sibling of S9, the S9 Pro actually performed the BEST in this condition. All the raw power within unleashed needing just 68/100 of volume. Fidelity level was nothing short of stellar with powerful, impactful and deeply extended Bass Responses, silky Smooth Treble with equally crisp decays, richly textured Mids that remained natural sounding. There was no hint of timbre/dynamics stress or instability observed. The output vibrant and highly engaging, full bodied. (In contrast to S9 which is warm neutral, S9 Pro is balanced neutral).

⭐⭐⭐⭐½ ($119.00)

Best Pairing: Technical IEMs and HPs up to 250Ω or above 94db sensitivity.

Back to #donglemadness

56 Comments

  1. JD says:

    Hey Andy, I was wondering if I could ask you a question about the S9 pro. I saw that you’d recommend headphones of 250 ohms or above 94 db/mW of sensitivity. I have an Audio Technica R70x that I’m running off an SE cable. It’s high impedance (470 ohms), but a fairly efficient headphone (98 db/mW). Do you think the S9 pro’s singled ended out would be poor for it, or do you think it’d be a viable option?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Hi, at 98db it is actually better in sensitivity than my finicky 95db TIN HiFI P1, which is a sucker at being driven by anything. So despite the high Ohm, your ATH are not difficult to drive. My DT990 is also 98db

      Like

  2. David Greenham says:

    Hi Andy, Is the difference between 2.5 and 3.5 significant? I have the S9 Pro and have been underwhelmed paired with y Westone W60 v2 IEMs using the 3.5.

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      2.5mm offers higher power output. If what underwhelmed you is related to sound signature then switching to 2.5mm won’t change anything. It simply mean you need other Dongles that offer different experiences. To me S9 Pro true power is when driving demanding less sensitive IEMs

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Evgeny says:

    Hi. First of all, thanks for your review. if it is possible to compare, then how is s9 pro in comparison with e1da 9038s/d ?

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      You’re welcomed. Between S9 Pro and E1DA 9038D/SG, S9 Pro edged it better with overall smoothness and micro refinement. S9 Pro is also outright more powerful in driving less efficient IEMs/Headphones. On top of that S9 Pro is a no brainer plug and play device which offers both SE and Balanced ports. With E1DA you have to choose either 9038D or 9038SG, not forgetting you need to be a bit geeky to get the best out of it. So all these taken into consideration, it is easy for me to prefer S9 Pro over E1DA

      Like

      1. andy says:

        Hello, what is the comparison between the S9 pro and XDUOO Link2 Bal USB DAC?

        Like

      2. Andy.EF says:

        Link2 BAL is simply a better tuned unit with more organic and close to analogue sound. Not forgetting I already mentioned how great Link2 BAL is with soundstage which in contrast, S9 Pro appeared narrower. Link2 BAL also has double the power of S9 Pro

        Like

  4. Roger says:

    Hi

    What ddhifi adapter did you use on the iPhone?

    Thanks!

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      No need for ddHiFi TC28i adapter as S9 and S9 Pro works directly with iPhone using USB C to Lightning. The cable are fully modular. I used my Audirect BEAM 2S Lighting cable

      Like

  5. Trins8 says:

    Hi Andy! First of all, thank you for the hard work! This is so very helpful!
    I just would like to ask since I am eyeing this dac, will this be good with Final Audio iems with the ff sensitivity/impedance?
    Sensitivity 93dB Impedance: 14Ω
    Sensitivity 97dB. Impedance 15Ω
    I am so clueless reg this. Thank you in advance!
    Figster

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Thanks. Yes I have tested S9 Pro driving the super stubborn FOSTEX T40RP MK3 which have even lower sensitivity at 91db 50ohm. May need 70/100 volume when attached to the phone but the output is wholesome sounding

      Like

  6. mahakit says:

    Hi Andy
    Does Hidizs s9 pro match with Shure kse1500?
    Thank you

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      No, not a good idea to use the powerful feed of S9 Pro that uses separate amp stage to feed KSE1500 AUX in – you will be double amping. VE Odyssey HD will work better for this scenario

      Like

  7. SLJ says:

    Hi! Have you tried hiby FD3? It has same chip as s9 pro, FD3 has dual ES9038Q2M, has physical volume adjuster, also has 3.5se, 2.5 and 4.4 bal output.

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Getting that probably in September or October, I have a budget limit around USD $1000 to buy dongles to test each month

      Like

  8. Pham Nam says:

    Hi Andy!
    Thanks for sharing useful information
    i am get T40rp and i am looking for 1 portable dac/amp for it. Is this S9 the best in the price range to pull T40rp?

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Yes it is. No worries

      Like

  9. Erik says:

    Hey Andy! Just recently got my hands on a pair of SE846 and im quite new. I use Iphone and need to drive them properly. I think a dongle is a good first step before i get a proper dac. But ive read SE846 are very sensitive with their low Impedance: 9Ω. Ive also read that they are sensitive in other regards aswell, also being sensitive to getting a bakground hiss in some cases which then needs to be combatted.

    What dongle would you recommend or is this the one?

    Best Regards Erik!

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      For sensitive IEMs, the very best if you have the budget would be ASUS ROG Clavis or TempoTec Sonata HD Pro. They are very clean sounding and will match anything sensitive greatly. High powered Dongles like Ovidius B1 or Apogee Groove will serve better for the less sensitive types

      Liked by 1 person

      1. quvantum says:

        Ohh okey awesome!! Ill look into those 😀 Also ive looked at Audirects Atom 2, any input on that one? 😀

        Thanks for the reply and help 😀

        Like

      2. Andy.EF says:

        Go back to the main page of #donglemadness and you will find that I have tested ATOM2 as well. https://andyaudiovault.com/donglemadness/hilidac-audirect-atom2/

        Like

  10. Jacob says:

    Hi, Andy. If I change from S9 Pro to E44, will it feel like an upgrade?

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Yes but not by much. The 5 star performers are all so very close to each other with their pro and cons

      Like

      1. Jacob says:

        Thank you. Then, I will not buy E44 because I am worried about its durability.

        Like

  11. RR says:

    Hey, can I have your opinion on my plan to buy the Hidizs S9 Pro ($90 after my discount)? I plan to match it with the following gear:

    Willsound MK150 Custom 2 (150Ω, $70)
    VE Monk Plus (64Ω)
    Willsound DeWa (32Ω, $70)
    K’s Earphone LBBs (30Ω, $30)
    iBasso IT01 (16Ω, $100)

    Thinking of using it for my iPhone, iPad, and Desktop… I’m not sure if I’m overspending on the dongle or not since most of my gear, especially the 150Ω earbud, are cheaper than the dongle. D:

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      S9 Pro is a great choice considering how neutral it sounds which mean can synergize great with many devices. The intended signature of the IEMs/Earbuds preserved. On top of that, driving power to work even for demanding stuffs. For iOS you will need to get Lightning version cable

      Liked by 1 person

      1. raccatography says:

        That makes sense! Thank you. I have a Lightning to Type-C (Female) adapter and I hope that works!

        Thank you Andry for the knowledge you’re sharing with everyone. Thanks to your reviews, my friends and I got to figure out which dongles to buy! So far we’ve bought Avani’s, Odyssey HD’s, and Abigail’s.

        Liked by 2 people

  12. Nikita says:

    Thanks for your reviews! When to expect updates for the models in the list?) For example Fiio KA3?

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      My pleasure. I hope to announce some updates soon. Thanks

      Like

  13. Eko says:

    Can it drive my hifiman sundara (planar 37Ω, 94db sensitifty) with enough headroom?

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Yes. Sundara is not as hard to drive as my FOSTEX T40RP MK3 which is 91db, 50 Ohm

      Like

    2. Eko says:

      With single ended jack

      Like

      1. Andy.EF says:

        If you are limited to 3.5mm SE, then you be better served with Questyle M12, Ovidius B1, CEntrance DACport HD, Creative SXFi or Apogee Groove. I would not use any of my planars with 3.5mm for dongles with dual ports – since they intentionally designed the 3.5mm to be weaker than the BAL side, S9 Pro included. S9 Pro is best used on 2.5mm BAL

        Like

  14. ddmareo says:

    sorry if i ask too much because im very confused with the many choices of dongles hehehe. Im on the edge of choosing Hidzis S9, Hidzis S9 Pro, and Fiio KA3. I like to have two different outputs instead of 1 so these three are the ones I come up with. In terms of sound performance alone, which is best? (I love my sound to be organic with deep and punchy bass)

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Between the Hidizs, S9 is the most organic. S9 Pro is flatter neutral. FiiO KA3 will likely suit your taste better, for as long as you don’t plan to push it over 300 Ohm

      Like

  15. Kris says:

    What is the main differences between this S9 Pro and Colorfly CDA M1? If I want better clarity and soundstage, which one is better? Thanks

    Like

  16. Cloud says:

    What are the differences between this S9 Pro and Colorfly CDA M1? If I want better clarity and soundstage, which one is better?
    Thanks for great review as always.

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Any of the 5 Stars Dongles are relatively excellent with clarity and resolution, one of the main reasons they are 5 Stars. Between CDA M1 and S9 Pro, M1 has wider Soundstage, while S9 Pro being taller (but narrower). M1 also has more power at 4 Vrms versus S9 Pro 2 Vrms. Thanks

      Liked by 1 person

  17. duke lestat says:

    hi andy, been waiting for your final thoughts about xduoo link 2 bal, im like balancing between xduoo link 2 bal, s9 pro and colorfly, and shanling ua5 which one would you suggest ? thank you again

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Thanks. I have been busy IRL and the Link2 BAL review will be up later today

      Like

      1. duke lestat says:

        so do you suggest the link2bal compared to s9 pro andy?

        Like

      2. Andy.EF says:

        Yes absolutely. It’s simply a better unit

        Like

  18. adimmr says:

    Hi, Andy. If I like S9, would there be any point in getting S9 Pro? Or I can just go straight to the top 5 category for an upgrade? Thanks for any insight and love the reviews.

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Last year yes, Hidizs S9 Pro is one of the few that would tops my recommendation. However now we have something like Colorfly CDA M1 and REIYIN DA-PLUS which cost less, yet with more power at 4 Vrms, which in turn offers denser note weight. If you have the budget to get S9 Pro, I would recommend Questyle M12 instead. Or if you don’t mind spending $150 then Xduoo Link2 BAL is what I favor. But personally, any of my top 5 are assuredly better than S9 Pro, subjective to my usage and preferences

      Like

      1. adimmr says:

        For some reasons, I got really into the sq of S9. I am intrigued by Xduoo Link2 Bal as it uses dual CS chips. I’ll wait a bit for that then. Thanks for the suggestion. 😀

        Like

  19. Wraith says:

    Will this power he400se which has 91db sensitivity at 25ohm

    Like

  20. Jaga says:

    Hi Andy,

    I am a newbie looking to add DAC to my phone. I have an – IEM Blon b03. Does it really make sense to get s9 pro or any DAC for this setup? Right now I’m using IEM with stock 3.5mm cable.
    Thanks

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      Not really, BL-03 is not a very resolving IEM and will unlikely benefit from better dongles. Upgrade to better IEMs instead. Something like Tripowin Olina, DUNU Titan S or TIN HiFi T3+

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Jaga says:

        Thought so. Thanks for confirming my suspicions.

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Hamzzi says:

    Hi Andy,

    I’m looking for a dac which has 2.5mm BAL and fully work on iOS.
    If I don’t care about my budget, is S9pro the best choice?
    And can you tell which is better compare S9pro with lg mobile phone’s quad dac?

    Thank you.

    Like

    1. Andy.EF says:

      For iOS the best option now is xDuoo Link2 BAL. S9 Pro will kill your iPhone battery fast as it is very power intensive and you need to buy separate lightning cable. On top of that Link2 BAL is a better sounding unit than S9 Pro. Or you can also consider Lotoo PAW S2 if you don’t have limit on budget. S9 Pro however is better sounding than LG V series phone DAC

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hamzzi says:

        Your recommendation sounds great, but unfortunately I only have 2.5mm balanced cables. I think I have no choice but go for S9pro.

        Like

      2. Andy.EF says:

        You can also consider 2.5mm to 4.4mm adapter. Nonetheless, S9 Pro is still an amazing unit

        Like

      3. Hamzzi says:

        Convenience is my priority, so I’m not sure about adapter.
        Think I got the final answer.
        Really appreciate your advices.

        Like

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