July 18, 2024
1 Solar System Way, Planet Earth, USA
Headphones

Hidizs S8 Pro Robin Review — Headfonics

Today, Lynn is reviewing the Hidizs S8 Pro Robin, which is a dual CS43131 DAC dongle capable of outputting up to DSD256 and 160mW of balanced output power. It has an SRP of $99, but is currently discounted to $79.

Disclaimer: This sample was sent to me in exchange for our honest opinion. Headfonics is an independent website with no links or affiliate status. I appreciate Hidiz for your support.

To read more about Hidiz Products We have previously reviewed Headfonics, click here.

Please note that this article follows our current scoring guidelines which you can read in more detail here.

Featured image from the Hidizs S8 Pro Robin review

Hidizs S8 Pro Robin Review

Summary

The Hidizs S8 Pro Robin is an easy-to-use and affordable adapter-based DAC designed for first-time audiophile smartphone users. It can deliver pleasing sound and performance with enough variation through its filter controls to vary its sound to the listener's tastes.

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7.9

Advantages

Filter changes can accommodate many listening options.

A softer signature will attract many listeners.

Cons

The sound signature is not as detailed as higher-end models.

Anti-fingerprint case in glossy black

coming back to me S9 Pro Plus Marta In the DAC dongle review, I mentioned that for many consumers, the price-performance ratio was just as important as the audio qualities of such an item. This still holds true as many continue to upgrade the dongles/DACs in their stable.

Hidizs could be considered a leading competitor in this niche, so the new $99 S8 Pro Robin portable DAC can continue that tradition.

Hidizs code-named the unit Robin for good luck and “spread your wings,” with another nod to our place on the planet alongside the species we share on Earth.

Hidizs S8 Pro Robin on wooden baseHidizs S8 Pro Robin on wooden base

Characteristics

The Hidizs S8 Pro Robin features a dual 32-bit balanced DAC architecture, driven by two CS43131 chips with up to 32-bit/384kHz decoding for PCM and DSD256 natively and the same six filter options used in the Martha.

Delivering 80mW + 80mW into 32Ω 3.5mm SE / 160mW + 160mW into 32Ω 4.4mm BAL, it will adequately drive any IEM, including hard-to-drive low-impedance or planar IEMs, in-ear headphones, and many other headphones. Both a single-ended 3.5mm connector and a balanced 4.4mm connector options are included.

If you want to use the S8 Pro Robin as a wired DAC or in OTG mode, it is compatible with operating systems including Windows, Mac OS, iPad OS, Android, iOS and Harmony OS.

Design

The small design of many Dongle/DACs makes them a pocket-friendly offering, and the S8 Pro Robin is no different.

Weighing just 17g, the S8 Pro Robin is barely felt, while the included cable (my model came with an iOS adapter, which is thankfully included in the package) is long enough to plug back into the device. The cable is short enough not to cause discomfort.

Slightly smaller than a Juicy Fruit 7-piece pack (look it up) at 58mm x 28mm x 12mm, that 17g of weight also translates to a small overall size; even if it is slightly bigger than Martha.

Designed with “wings” representative of a bird in flight, those wings also protect the three buttons on the business side of things. There’s enough height so you won’t accidentally press any of the buttons, but still have them within easy reach.

While the black color looks good, it gets fingerprints easily due to its bright color. If this bothers you, there is also a silver color that would hide these fingerprints.

Hidizs S8 Pro Robin headphone jacksHidizs S8 Pro Robin headphone jacks

IS

A USB-C connection sits on the bottom of the S8 Pro Plus Robin, with dual 3.5mm SE and 4.4mm BAL connectors on the other end.

The two arrow-shaped operation buttons indicating FF and REW are located on the side and are used to increase or decrease the volume. Pressing both simultaneously will change the filters (again by color, listed above).

The knob in the middle does not turn and is only used for play/pause, like on Martha.

The S8 Pro Robin has a USB-C to USB-C connection, for use with Android options, and an iPhone adapter is included.

Connection and recognition were easy on both my iPhone and MBP. As with Martha, I couldn't notice the filter changes as much on my iPhone, but the changes were more audible on my MBP.

Filter options

The S8 Pro Plus Robin has six digital filters like the Martha, which can be toggled by simultaneously pressing both side buttons and the color changes to indicate the appropriate filter.

Allowing the user to toggle between options makes the S8 Pro Plus Robin a bit more versatile for different headphones and IEMs.

The light will flash in the following colors representative of the chosen filter when you press both side buttons simultaneously. The colors and effects remain the same as on Martha, but the terminology has changed slightly.

  • NOS (default filter, green light): Slightly forward vocals, extended high frequencies with reduced resonance.
  • High Pass Filter (Red Light): Enhanced analytical capabilities, delivering clean, crisp sound.
  • Deem phasis filter (blue light): rich harmonics, full low frequencies and natural reverberation.
  • Fast and slow filter (yellow light): Balanced and moderate sound.
  • Low latency and phase compensation filter (violet light): clean sound with a forward position.
  • Broadband flat filter (white light): Smooth, fluid sound with enhanced detail.

Battery duration

The S8 Pro Robin does not have a built-in battery and therefore requires the use of its source to power itself. I noticed that my iPhone's battery drain was noticeable, at about 7% to 10% per hour, a little too high for my taste.

This was less bothersome on my Mackbook Pro, but still noticeable at 3-4% per hour, which was higher than on the Martha.

The drain isn't out of the realm of possibility, but it's worth looking at nonetheless. The 3.5mm SE used less battery than the 4.4mm BAL, as you'd expect.

Hidizs S8 Pro Robin AccessoriesHidizs S8 Pro Robin Accessories

Packaging and accessories

The Hidizs S8 Pro Robin comes in a small, square plastic package, with the typical black case over the box.

The case has the necessary information on the back, as well as an image of the black version on the front. The lid of the box bears the Hidizs logo and name, with its motto: “Enjoy the music. “The beauty is in the details!”

Lifting the lid, you’re greeted with the S8 Pro Robin in your chosen color. Mine is a glossy black, and while it looks pretty sleek, it’s quite prone to fingerprints. Accessories include a short USB-C to USB-C cable, a USB-C to USB-A adapter, a Lightning adapter, and the manual.

I like the small packaging and the reusable box look to keep everything together.

Sound impressions

All listening was done on my Macbook Pro or iPhone 13 Pro Max. I used the HiBy x FAudio ACE Project IEM together with Campfire Audio Solaris 2020 and Campfire Audio Custom Large moon IEM. The Fiio FT3 (32Ω) was also used, just like in Martha's review.

Summary

Going back to my Martha review, evaluating the differences in DACs with small, affordable adapters is still an exercise in patience, especially when switching between filter options. The sound differences may be small on one device (my iPhone), but noticeably larger on another (MacBook Pro).

This should be taken separately from the sound impressions, but still mentioned. I heard differences on both sources, but the changes were still minimal on the iPhone according to my ears across all listening devices.

The S8 Pro Robin's underlying signature was slightly less vibrant and lacking in microdetails, but worked better with a 4.4mm balanced cable option.

I enjoyed the smoother character, especially when changing filter options, and having that ability allows the user to tailor the sound to their needs or their headphones.

Doorbell

Using the “neutral” filter first again (green color when changing), the S8 Pro Robin’s sound delivered a smooth signature, with decent authority in the bass, while remaining controlled; but lacking visceral impact.

With that soft sound, the S8 Pro Robin could be considered to have more of a V-shaped signature that tends towards a soft character rather than detail recovery.

Detail tended to disappear as a result of that soft character, but I never found it to lack energy when paired with the right genres, such as jazz.

That softness colored the sound with a warmer, slightly richer signature. Filters can adapt this a bit, of course. This can be counteracted somewhat by using the 4.4mm balanced connector.

I had a preferred filter overall (same as on Martha), but each one presents a nice change in the song or when using different headphones or IEMs.

Hidizs S8 Pro Robin paired with iPhoneHidizs S8 Pro Robin paired with iPhone

Staging and dynamics

The S8 Pro Robin doesn't lack noteworthy weight, with better depth than the Martha and decent resolution present in all filter options, especially the 4.4mm balanced connector.

But this doesn't provide as much detail and separation as Martha, meaning that much of the music can be softened and lose detail, resulting in a lack of placement in terms of instrumentation.

For chill genres, this is good. For a listen that provides really good energy or detail, not so much. Again, filters can improve this a bit and I recommend floating around the filter options to find your niche.

Compared again to the magnificent and more expensive Questyle M12, it is missing a good amount of details. However, this is not unexpected. However, the trumpet notes have excellent weight and commitment, which can compensate for quite a bit of indifference to detail. The piano notes also convey this well.

With the ability to change filters to suit your music genres or listening device, the S8 Pro Robin promotes a much smoother character than the Martha's very good, detailed sound.

Preferred filters

This time my preferred choices were the purple and white filters (#5 and #6 in the filter list above), as I prefer a more liquid, smoother sound presentation.

Lengthening the notes allowed them to linger a little longer, thickening the sound, although the S8 Pro Robin's unfiltered sound also carries that signature.

I enjoyed both equally well with jazz performances. For more vocal work I preferred the “stock” green filter and with guitar work, the blue filter for its very good harmonic treatment and that slight touch of reverb.

Having six options not only helps with different headphones and IEMs, but also allows the user to tailor the signature for multiple genres.

Click on page 2 below to see my recommended combinations and selected comparisons.

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