DAC Chip: AKM AK4493EQ (Single)
PCM 24bit – 768khz DSD512, SNR: -117/-119dB, Power: 125mWx2 @32Ω (BAL) 90mWx2 @32Ω (SE), USB Type-C Female, 2.5mm BAL & 3.5mm SE (Microphone: No), Aluminum CNC Chassis
LISTENING EQUIPMENT USED IMPARTED HUGE INFLUENCE TO SOUND IMPRESSIONS & RATING
- Natural and neutral timbre, slight analogue tonality, tilted towards Mids focus.
- IMMENSELY powerful 125x2mW Balanced output, effortless driving capability
- Smooth commanding dynamics, smooth, vibrant, and effortless
- Stellar, sharp imaging with excellent spatial staging
- Beautifully nuanced details retrieval. Macro and Micro
- Smooth Treble, well extended and with smooth decay
- Mid-Bass, commanding visceral impact and slam with rich texture and decay.
- Lush and deep Sub-Bass with strong seismic sensation
- Forward tilted Mids, rich texture, lush Male/Female vocals
- Vivid and crisp tonality for cello, guitars, piano, and stringed instruments
- Great speed and transients handling, no congestion
- Excellent sibilance resistance, always smooth, forgiving on Lo-Fi recordings.
- Zero floor noises with black background
- Stellar synergy with Magnetic Planars (35/100 Volume!), Electrostatics & sparkly BAs
- Tall but slightly caved in Soundstage, depth could be slightly better.
- Timbre and dynamics not as airy as the top contenders
- No hardware volume adjusters
- The luxury build may show messy fingerprints (I know I am nit-picking here)
Hidizs S9. The overall sound is classic intimate, smooth AKM signature. Very vibrant and visceral dynamics that’s meaty yet coherent. Among all of the top contenders tested, S9 is the “warmest” sounding, not surprising at all since the tuning stayed true to AKM native timbre. If I may draw conclusion with the previous AK4493EQ (Cayin N3 Pro Dual DAC) which I have used very extensively, S9 does offer better technical capabilities and better extensions – so that’s a BIG plus considering how dull edged this chip can be if not tuned as adeptly as how Hidizs did it. And I do agree wholeheartedly of other users describing this S9 being velvety smooth and powerful. S9 is quite comparable to Shanling UA2 in almost every area, perhaps the difference that separate them being one with tall soundstage and the other with slightly narrow staging – and S9 being warmer, UA2 being a tiny bit sparkier. But both will offer lush velvety timbre nonetheless – so pick your poison (if you love bass pick S9)
17 July 2021 Update
It was Hidizs S9 turn to run the gauntlet with my new FOSTEX T40RP MK3 91db Magnetic Planar. And I was greeted with an eye-opening treat. Whichever tests that I have done previously, it was not enough to reveal the true nature of this exceedingly clean, polished and vibrant DAC/Amp Dongle. For one it needed only around 65-75/100 volume to sound full. With wholesome and coherent dynamics. Timbre slightly warm neutral. But what’s more important it sounded truly Hi-Fi even subjected to massive amount of Bass or Treble attacks. Bass responses were deftly controlled with amazing speed and exhibit rich textures with far reaching extensions. Makes my T40RP behave like a well tuned DD!. It is totally free of any hint of distortion or jitters across the entire spectrum, simply super smooth and polished. There’s also no hint of sibilance. This is the sort of performance that the AudioQuest DF Cobalt tried so hard to achieve and failed. I am willing to bet my money on this S9 anytime for the sheer competency it demonstrated driving power hungry cans especially Planars.
Best Pairing: Natively bright sounding IEMs/HPs
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