PROS: single ended and balanced outputs, AK4493EQ DAC, supports 32bit/768kHz and DSD512, small compact size.
CONS: some overheating due to higher current draw.
The product was provided to me free of charge for the review purpose in exchange for my honest opinion.
Manufacturer website: Hidizs. Available for sale directly or from authorized retailers.
The demand for thumb-size usb DAC/amps went through a roller-coaster ride. These were popular back in the days when sound quality of smartphones and laptops was sub-par, so it made sense to enhance it with external dongle. Then, smartphone sound quality improved and the demand for these devices went down. When some smartphones lost 3.5mm jack, it peaked up again, followed by going down due to popularity of TWS earphones and wireless DAC/amp dongles. But not everybody is on-board with wireless audio connection, especially since you have to keep it charged and also, not every budget wireless dongle offers a balanced output.
In comparison to 2-3 years ago, today the demand for these small USB DAC/amp devices is not as high, but still exists, and some manufacturers continue to release new and improved models. What makes some of these to stand out are higher end DACs, more powerful balanced outputs, and support for higher sampling rate audio. Of course, if you choose to turn your smartphone into a DAP or to enhance your laptop with external audio interface, such device has to offer the improvement over your stock headphone jack. Hidizs already released a few usb DAC/amps, with each having a better DAC and overall spec. S9 is their latest release I’m going to look into.
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