- Great Sabre sound, pure and analytical.
- Great power and performance.
- Supports MQAx8 and DSD128.
- Small size and weight, built-in battery and nice and attractive design.
- 3.5mm SE and 4.4mm Balanced output.
- 3 gain modes.
- Separate USB Type-C charging and data connections.
- Operation LEDs.
- Automatic shutdown in absence of source signal or no connection of outputs.
- When activated (not between songs), the sound appears with a relatively fast Fade-IN. In my case, I don’t like this feature, because the first musical bars are lost.
- The switches are somewhat soft, they exert little resistance to movement.
- No ASIO driver available.
Hidizs, the well-known brand established in 2012, continues to expand its catalogue with increasingly versatile products. After the excellent S9 and the small, but surprising H2, the brand wanted to complete its DAC/AMPS portfolio with the new DH80/S. The DH80 is a custom-made dock for the AP80/Pro DAPs, while the DH80S is the same product but universal, lacking the dock for these DAPs. In my case, the product to be analysed is the small DH80S. And I say small, because honestly, I expected it to be bigger. And my first surprise was to see its size and all its features: volume control, triple gain control, 3.5mm SE output, balanced 4.4mm output, independent USB Type-C charging port, USB Type-C input port, dual LEDs for operation notification and 1300mAh internal battery. All this in an aluminium alloy tablet with leather bottom protection, weighing 76g. Inside, in addition to the aforementioned battery, it has two oscillator crystals, two RT6863C operational amplifiers, Sabre’s ES9281C Pro premium DAC, Panasonic capacitors, plus a magnetic absorption design. It is compatible with Windows 10, Mac OS, iPad OS, Android and iOS. It supports MQAx8, has 3 gain levels and 30 volume steps per level.
Below we will see all these features expanded, its measurements and we will analyse its sound.
- DAC: Sabre ES9281C Pro
- OPAMP: RT6863Cx2.
- Power connector: Type-C.
- USB input: Type-C
- Battery size: 1300mAh (3.7V Li-Polymer).
- Charging time: Approximately 2.5 hours.
- Battery life: Up to 6 hours (balanced), up to 8 hours (single).
- Maximum output power (3.5mm): 125mW+125mW(32Ω).
- Maximum output power (4.4mm): 210mW+210mW(32Ω).
- Frequency response range: 20Hz-80kHz(±0.6dB).
- THD+N (3.5mm): 0.0006%.
- THD+N (4.4mm): 0.0004%.
- Crosstalk (3.5 mm): 79 dB.
- Crosstalk (4.4 mm): 108 dB.
- SNR: 116dB.
- Size: 70x50x12mm
- Weight: 76g approx.
- Support for MQA x8.
- Sampling rate: up to 32Bit/384kHz.
- DSD: up to 128
The DH80S comes in a dark box, which has a realistic photo on its front side. Its size is 128x98x55mm. In the upper left corner you can see the brand logo. At the bottom the model name, as well as a short description and the Hi-Res, DSD and MQA logos, all in gold lettering. On the back, in white lettering, are written the full specifications, contents and Hidizs’ address and web link. Lifting the lid reveals the DH80 tablet wrapped in a whitish plastic bag inside a thick foam mould. Thanks to a strip of cloth, the product can be removed and the rest of the accessories can be accessed. In a summary:
- 1 DAC/AMP DH80S.
- 1 USB-A to Type-C converter.
- 1 USB Type-C charging cable.
- 1 USB Type-C to USB Type-C connection cable.
- 1 warranty card.
- 1 instruction manual.
- 1 adhesive metal disc.
The packaging is adequately sized, sober and simple. The accessories are basic, but I’m happy with two cables: a charging cable and a connection cable, as well as the USB Type-C female to USB-A male adapter. On the other hand, I miss a carrying pouch and some rubber bands for attaching it to other devices. Also missing is the lightning OTG cable, for connection to iOS devices, which must be purchased separately.
Construction and Design
The tablet is made of aluminium alloy. Its dimensions are 70x50x12mm and its approximate weight is 76g. It is completely black and all its inscriptions are made in white ink. On the upper side you can see the logo of the brand, while on the lower side there are the Hi-Res, DSD and MQA logos, the name of the model and its description. On the lower side face are the LED indicating the sample rate, the USB Type-C female connection port, the USB Type-C female charging port, the 3.5mm SE output and the 4.4mm balanced output. You can clearly see that the balanced output is gold-plated, while the SE is not.
On the side face is the gain selector switch. The DH80S has three gain modes. The switch is cylindrical and its movement offers hardly any resistance and the jump between the different modes is small and subtle. I would have preferred the movement to be a little harder and longer, not so easy to switch. On the left side, also at the bottom, there is a charge indicator LED, a power switch, a volume down button and a volume up button. All three buttons are cylindrical. There are 30 volume steps, which may not seem like much, but combined with its triple gain mode, it may be adequate. Personally, I would have liked more steps, 50 would have been fine. The pulsation travel is small and the click is subtle. Likewise, the vertical travel of the drive switch is short and soft. I would have liked it to be harder to avoid accidental activation.
On the underside is a brown leather cover, encased in a protruding aluminium rim.
The shape is reminiscent of the brand’s DAPS, the AP80, with that slight trapezoidal shape.
Personally, I would have liked the USB connectors to be on the bottom side only, and the headphone outputs on the top side.
On the other hand, the fit of the LEDs seems to be a bit loose, as they seem to be moved inside their slots, which appear to be larger.
All in all, the best thing about the pickup is the size and weight. That the balanced output is 4.4mm is great, but I don’t understand why the SE output is not gold-plated. I would have preferred a harder drive with more travel on both switches to avoid unwanted movement. Still, the design is sober, simple and black, with the right indications. It is, however, sturdily and rigidly constructed. The leather base is appreciated.
The DH80S is compatible with Windows 10, Mac OS, iPad OS, Android and iOS. For Windows 10 it does not need a driver, although I would have preferred an ASIO driver. It can be used as a DAC/AMP connected to a PC and as a headphone amplifier, connected to a compatible smartphone or DAP. It has a dedicated port for connection and another for charging. Thanks to its internal battery, no charging connection is required during operation. Both ports are USB Type-C female. It supports up to 32Bit/384kHz sampling rate, DSD 128 and Full 8X MQA decoding via UAPP, Tidal, etc. software.
There is no line output, nor any other input other than the USB port.
Operation is very simple: power switch, 30 volume steps, 3 gain modes, 3.5mm SE output and 4.4mm balanced output. Load indicator LED and sample rate indicator LED:
- Red: 44.1kHz-48kHz
- Blue: 88.2kHz-384kHz
- Pink: MQA
The charging LED is green during charging. Once charged, it turns off.
To avoid unnecessary battery drain, it has a quick shut-off: when the playback application is started, the sound is activated smoothly, from mute to the current volume. If playback is paused, this fade-in is not executed, only when the playback application is started. During playback, the corresponding sampling light is lit, during pause or non-playback, it is switched off.
It should be noted that the DH80S remembers the volume status when it is switched on again.
No load SE LOW
At low gain, through the Single Ended 3.5mm output, the Hidizs DH80S presents excellent linearity, providing a maximum voltage of 650mV @ 1kHz.
No load SE MED
At medium gain, through the Single Ended 3.5mm output, with no load, the Hidizs DH80S maximum voltage is 1.49V @ 1kHz.
No load SE HIGH
At high gain, through the Single Ended 3.5mm output, without load, the Hidizs DH80S maximum voltage is 2.14V @ 1kHz.
No load BAL LOW
At low gain, through the Balanced 4.4mm output, with no load, the Hidizs DH80S maximum voltage is 1.26V @ 1kHz.
No load BAL MED
At medium gain, through the Balanced 4.4mm output, with no load, the Hidizs DH80S maximum voltage is 2.99V @ 1kHz.
No load BAL HIGH
At high gain, through the Balanced 4.4mm output, with no load, the Hidizs DH80S maximum voltage is 4.2V @ 1kHz.
15 Ohms SE
At high gain, through the Single Ended 3.5mm output, at 15Ω, the Hidizs DH80S’s maximum voltage is 1.4V @ 1kHz.
This means a power of 130mW. This power is not achieved at maximum volume. I have tried lowering the volume until a pure sine wave, free of visible distortion, is displayed. At this rate, the DH80S is capable of delivering a current of just over 93mA.
15 Ohms BAL
At high gain, through the 4.4mm Balanced output, at 15Ω, the Hidizs DH80S’s maximum voltage is 1.26V @ 1kHz.
This means a power output of 110mW. This power is not achieved at maximum volume. I have tried lowering the volume until a pure sine wave, free of visible distortion, is displayed. At this rate, the DH80S is capable of delivering a current of 84mA. It is curious that the balanced output, with this impedance, delivers less power than the SE output.
33 Ohms SE
At high gain, through the Single Ended 3.5mm output, at 33Ω, the Hidizs DH80S maximum voltage is 2.07V @ 1kHz.
This means a power output of 130mW. This power is achieved at maximum volume, with no visible distortion. At this rate, the DH80S is capable of delivering a current in excess of 62mA. As can be seen, it is clear that Hidizs delivers as specified, 125mW @32Ω and certainly with a very low level of distortion.
33 Ohms BAL
At high gain, through the 4.4mm Balanced output, at 33Ω, the Hidizs DH80S’s maximum voltage is 2.67V @ 1kHz.
This means a power output of 220mW. This power is not achieved at maximum volume. I have tried lowering the volume until a pure sine wave, free of visible distortion, is displayed. At this rate, the DH80S is capable of delivering a current of 81mA. Again, Hidizs delivers as specified, with distortion that is sure to be low, as the waves appear clean.
100 Ohms SE
At high gain, through the Single Ended 3.5mm output, at 100Ω, the Hidizs DH80S maximum voltage is 2.10V @ 1kHz.
This gives a power output of 44.1mW. This power is achieved at maximum volume, with no visible distortion. At this rate, the DH80S is capable of delivering a current of 21mA.
100 Ohms BAL
At high gain, through the 4.4mm Balanced output, at 100Ω, the Hidizs DH80S maximum voltage is 4.09V @ 1kHz.
This is 170mW of power. This power is achieved at maximum volume, with no visible distortion. At this rate, the DH80S is capable of delivering a current of 41mA.
150 Ohms SE
At high gain, through the Single Ended 3.5mm output, at 150Ω, the Hidizs DH80S maximum voltage is 2.09V @ 1kHz.
This gives a power output of 29.12mW. This power is achieved at maximum volume, with no visible distortion. At this rate, the DH80S is capable of delivering a current of 14mA.
150 Ohms BAL
At high gain, through the 4.4mm Balanced output, at 150Ω, the Hidizs DH80S maximum voltage is 4.09V @ 1kHz.
This is 110mW of power. This power is achieved at maximum volume, with no visible distortion. At this rate, the DH80S is capable of delivering a current of 27mA.
300 Ohms SE
At high gain, through the Single Ended 3.5mm output, at 300Ω, the Hidizs DH80S maximum voltage is 2.09V @ 1kHz.
This gives a power output of 14.56mW. This power is achieved at maximum volume, with no visible distortion. At this rate, the DH80S is capable of delivering a current of 7mA.
300 Ohms BAL
At high gain, through the 4.4mm Balanced output, at 300Ω, the Hidizs DH80S maximum voltage is 4.18V @ 1kHz.
This gives a power output of 58.24mW. This power is achieved at maximum volume, with no visible distortion. At this rate, the DH80S is capable of delivering a current of 14mA.
620 Ohms SE
At high gain, through the Single Ended 3.5mm output, at 300Ω, the Hidizs DH80S maximum voltage is 2.14V @ 1kHz.
This gives a power output of 7.39mW. This power is achieved at maximum volume, with no visible distortion. At this rate, the DH80S is capable of delivering a current of 3.45 mA.
620 Ohms BAL
At high gain, through the 4.4mm Balanced output, at 300Ω, the Hidizs DH80S maximum voltage is 4.18V @ 1kHz.
This gives a power output of 28.18mW. This power is achieved at maximum volume, with no visible distortion. At this rate, the DH80S is capable of delivering a current of 6.74mA.
As can be seen in the images above, the frequency response, both for the SE and Balanced output, is linear. The following graph corroborates the linearity of the frequency response and it can be seen that there is no difference between channels over the entire frequency range (10Hz to 50kHz), even at different volumes. With this, it is clear that the Hidizs DH80S is a device that meets the Hi-Res specification, as far as frequency range is concerned.
The SE output impedance measured at 33Ω is 1.12Ω.
The SE output impedance measured at 100Ω is 1.9Ω.
BAL output impedance measured at 100Ω is 2.69Ω.
The SE output impedance measured at 300Ω is 1.44Ω.
The Hidizs DH80S has an unrestricted Sabre sound. Anyone familiar with these DACS will have an idea of their profile, which tends towards clarity and analytical capability. And so it is, from the very first moment, the sound is uncluttered, very clean and defined, full of light, separate and precise. It’s not a harsh sound, not to misinterpret the analytical sound towards this side, but it’s not silky or sweet either. It is more neat, transparent, clean and highly descriptive. And that is true of all the IEMS that connect. Notably, there is no clear colouring for either output (SE or Balanced), regardless of the IEMS connected, whether with pure dynamic drivers or BA drivers. In this way, the DH80S respects the idiosyncrasies of each connected headphone, but clearly shades it towards its profile. This is how this new device from Hidizs demonstrates its distinct character, which will leave no one indifferent. It is clear that this will be a double-edged sword: those who like analytical sound will love the DH80S; however, those who prefer a quieter, softer sound may not be at ease. I have made my preference clear in many of my reviews, but without disparaging other profiles. That’s why, from the very first moment, I connected with his sound and was surprised that his accent was so insightful and exposed. That is why I have emphasised and extended this lengthy introduction. But I would also like to point out that the DH80S is capable of boosting its profile, more or less, depending on the connection. Used as a DAC/Amp, connected to my Windows 10 PC, this profile shines the brightest. Connected to a warmer source, such as the Tempotec V1-A, its profile tends to calm down a bit, but without reaching neutrality. This is how this Hidizs is not a completely anarchic device, but also has its docile and obedient side, but without giving up its character.
In the mid-range, the splendour of its analytical character is appreciated without restriction. Light, clarity, separation, transparency, definition and level of resolution are limited only by the capabilities of the connected headphones. Vocals are exposed very full in their edges and details, without the body suffering. Their level of dynamics is quite high and so is the speed. The differences between them and the instruments is very clear, with no decoupling felt, just a great separation and a sense of air. Despite the cold character, there is no loss of musicality: it is not an inert and insensitive sound, but a technically very outstanding sound, which works very well with BA drivers, because it knows how to enhance their virtues. But it is not only good for them, with dynamic drivers it makes the profile more musical, offering a more fluid and continuous mid-range. The instrumentation is very delicate and precise, but without losing its naturalness. It is remarkable the great amount of detail offered, generating a very refined and melodic timbre, very suitable for complex compositions, where a high level of resolution is required. This DH80S does not shy away from big challenges, but excels at them.
The high end does not feel betrayed by the character of the Hidizs, as it is no more exposed than other areas. The treble sounds in keeping with the profile, technically precise, without losing its delicacy or sounding harsh, even with the most excited headphones. It is clear that the timbre in this area stands out in its coolness, speed and tightness. The notes are exquisitely thin, swift and lightning-fast, showing off their precision and level of resolution. It’s worth noting that, although the sound is analytical, this is not an overly bright DAC/AMP, nor is it emphasised in this area, because it is clear that the linearity of its frequency response is absolute, nor is there any colouring in the response of the connected headphones, be they dynamic drivers, BA, via the SE or Balanced output. It goes without saying, however, that the highs are very sparkling and dynamic, with a lot of liveliness and extension, not least because the DH80S reaches up to 50kHz without losing the linearity of its response.
In assessing the scenery, it is notable for its amount of air and enormous separation. As a result, the musical representation is eminently wide and enveloping, with a generous depth and considerable height. At no point does the DH80S limit the expansiveness of the music in the connected headphones, but invites them to spread out as far as they can. This is how all the great features of this device come together in a positive way to offer a remarkable three-dimensional sensation, a positioning worthy of its analytical capacity and a precise and realistic provenance, without being artificial or forced.
Finally, I would like to point out that there are slight differences between the 3.5mm SE output and the 4.4mm Balanced output: I find the balanced output technically superior, with a higher level of definition and separation. Meanwhile, the SE output has a more musical, uniform and cohesive point.
Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus
The Sonata iDSD Plus is an old acquaintance of the family. It also shares a Sabre DAC, but in a different model and in a Dual version (ES9018K2M). It also has a battery, is larger, heavier, has a balanced output (2.5mm) and ASIO driver, something in which it surpasses the DH80S. But it has less power: the Hidizs has a smidge more per SE output and 60mW more per balanced output. Another improved feature of the DH80S is that it does not draw power when idle, whereas the iDSD does. So if you forget to turn it off for a few hours, the battery may be drained when you return. Also noteworthy are the Hidizs gain selector, MQA support, descriptive LEDs and its magnetic absorption design. It is clear that a newer product has new and superior technology.
The profile of both is similar, although the DH80S feels more analytical, with a higher point of clarity and better exposure, although the difference is not great. One thing that is more noticeable is the emphasis in the low end, with the DH80S’s bass energy being higher, and also showing a more perceptible, undulating texture, with a more attractive and noticeable roughness. Meanwhile, the iDSD feels softer and smoother in this low end, less visceral.
The mids of the DH80S have a somewhat higher order: when the volume is turned up on some sources, the sound sometimes seems to get out of control. Comparatively speaking, this effect is minor on the Hidizs, while it is noticeable on the iDSD, although it seems smoother at first glance. And perhaps that smoother, more cohesive sound is to blame for this effect, as there seems to be a hint of higher resolution in the DH80S, which gives it more transparency and definition. In this way, both the vocals and the instrumentation sound more separate and isolated, with more prominence, a darker and purer background, which provides less continuity and highlights more details, generating a more analytical and precise sound. Thus, in the DH80S, vocals improve in texture and micro detail, and have a better described body, thanks to their higher level of resolution. Separation to and from instruments also feels improved.
The high end is very similar, and looking at it point by point, it’s hard to find differences. But there seems to be more air in the DH80S, energy, speed and a finer, crisper definition, that gives it the superiority in detail and resolution. So it is, too, that the scene and separation look slightly better on the new Hidizs, with that point of greater transparency and superior placement, that darker background and faster speed, allowing for better isolation of elements, more precise drawing and superior definition.
There is no doubt that the comparison between the two devices is complicated and you have to pay a lot of attention to distinguish their differences, but it seems that the Hidizs DH80S has taken the quality of the Tempotec Sonata iDSD Plus up a notch, improving in size, features and also in sound, without the price being higher, which is great.
The battle between DACs/Amps up to 200$ is getting tougher and tougher. Every now and then a new dongle or amplifier with battery is released. In this sense, when the battery appears, the fight is focused on weight, dimensions, connections and new features. In this respect, the new Hidizs DH80S is very good: the size is small, as is the weight, it has 3.5mm SE and balanced 4.4mm output, separate USB data and charging connections, 3 gain modes and 30-step volume control. It also supports MQAx8 and DSD128. Little more can be asked of it in this sense, apart from a good design, which it has, and that leather-lined bottom with magnetic absorption. In terms of power it does not fall short and it will be difficult to beat it, especially when its specifications in this respect are true. In terms of sound, the DH80S is Sabre through and through: an analytical, pure, energetic, clear, transparent, defined and high-resolution profile. And this is true from the very first moment. Only some warm source may soften this profile slightly, but its idiosyncrasies remain firm. And that is great news.
All in all, for those who want to preserve the battery life of their devices and/or improve (possibly a lot) the sound of their PC/Tablet/Laptop, etc., the Hidizs DH80S is one of the best candidates, no doubt.
Earphones and Sources Used During Analysis
- Tempotec V1-A
- Xiaomi Redmi Note 8 Pro
- Hidizs MS2
- Rose QT9 MK2
- NF AUDIO NM2
- BGVP ArtMagic VG4
- ISN H40
- NS Audio NS5 MKII Extra Bass
- Tin HiFi T4
- Tin HiFi T2 Plus
- Tansio Mirai TSMR-2
- Ikko OH10
- Toneking tk12s
- Takstar Pro 80
- SoundMagic HP150