What Is An Audio "Dongle"? - HIDIZS S3Pro Portable DAC/Amp Dongle



November 30, 2021

Dongles are portable decoding amplifiers, also known as portable DAC AMP. Older DAC AMPs produce great sound quality but weren’t exactly portable due to their size, and they support only a limited range of devices. 

Hidizs S3 Pro , the best USB-C audio dongle, featuring 8X MQA, Apple Music support, powerful output and tiny body, is the solution to all of these problems.

Hiby Music

The S3 Pro Hi-Res USB DAC AMP Dongle measures 3.54 inches (9 cm), shorter than the average decoding cable(3.93 inches/10 cm), and the main body is only ¾ inch (2 cm) in diameter and 0.39 inch(1 cm) thick. Yet this tiny body contains a USB-C(formally known as USB Type-C) interface, with a 55mw @ 32Ω power output on the 3.5mm single-ended(SE) port, an indicator light, plus a dual-core high purity silver + dual-core OFC wires (60 strands each) mix braid.

portable DAC

S3 Pro can support ordinary lossless, high-resolution audio (Hi-Res Audio), DSD (Direct Stream Dignified), and MQA audio technology(MQA is an abbreviation for Master Quality Authenticated, which is an audio coding technology developed by Bob Stuart, the co-founder of Meridian, UK), and the indicator light reflects the sampling rate of the current track. 

These features can be attributed to the built-in Saber ES9281C Pro DAC chip (integrated audio D/A converter with headphone amplifier) courtesy of the American company ESS, which not only provides 32Bit/384KHz PCM, 1bit/5.6Mbps DSD (also known as DSD 128), MQA 8X (eight-fold unfolding), but also provides THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise) as low as -110dB. Therefore, the compact S3 Pro achieves ultra-low distortion as low as 0.0008% and an ultra-high SNR(Signal-to-Noise Ratio) of 113dB, even with high-sensitivity headphones, noise floor is unlikely to happen.

headphone amplifier

It may be difficult for some to grasp the significance of the specifications above. To illustrate, a mobile phone with a 3.5mm headphone jack usually has a low driving ability, typically less than 20mw @ 16Ω. The audio support of non-HiFi mobile phones and the average PC or laptop is generally PCM 24Bit/ 192kHz. This hardware cannot support HD audio sources with 32Bit or above, nor can they support DSD decoding and MQA unfolding. Therefore, if you use the above devices to listen to high-definition music, you won’t be able to enjoy its clear and pure high-definition sound quality.

When S3 Pro USB-C audio dongle is used as an external decoder for smartphone/PCs/laptops, it provides not only 5 times more power for your earphones and easily powers most earphones, so that you can enjoy a 300% enhancement in resolution at PCM 32bit/384kHz (the sampling accuracy is 1.5 times that of 24bit, and the sound width is twice that of 192kHz), and it also supports DSD 128 (A DSD recorder uses delta-sigma modulation, it’s 1-bit with a 2.8 MHz sampling rate, which is 64 times that of CD format of 44.1kHz, it samples at 5.6Mhz, which is 128 times that of CD. Hardware decoding also avoids DSD over PCM conversion) and 8X MQA(MQA uses the "folding" method to "hide" ultra-high frequency signals in files by "compressing" ultra-high definition audio, and uses an "unfolding" method to playback high-definition content. Non-unfolded mode will reproduce ordinary definition i.e. in .flac format, 2X unfolding produces Hi-Res definition of 24bit/96kHz, 4X unfolding produces 24bit/192kHz, and 8X unfolding is the equivalent of ultra-high definition at 24bit/384kHz. Please note, to use MQA unfolding, you need to download music apps that specifically support MQA, such as Hiby Music and Tidal, and subscribe for their membership to access this content).

Besides supporting various audio formats, the dongle also supports various devices. The Hidizs S3 Pro portable DAC & headphone amplifier through its Type C interface + USB Type A adapter attached, is compatible (without the need to install drives) devices running Windows 10, MAC OS (Macbook, iMac, etc.), Android phones/tablets (including Xiaomi Android, Samsung Android, Huawei Glory Android, OPPO Android, VIVO Android, etc.), new iPad Pro and even Android music player. Hidizs Type-C Lightning adapter is also available for purchase, which is compatible with iOS devices e.g. iPhone and base model iPads, without the need for extra cables.

You might be wondering “Why don’t I just use a Bluetooth headset instead of a dongle(portable DAC AMP)? The fact is, even the best Qualcomm CSR/QCC audio scheme is transmitted by aptX-HD, Sony LDAC or LHDC, and other high-definition lossless protocols. At the moment, they can only reach 24bit/48kHz and 24bit/96kHz as far as HD is concerned, and they can't playback ultra-high definition music very well. Plus, when high-definition audio is transmitted over Bluetooth, the anti-interference ability is diminished, and the listener is left with a lackluster listening experience.


Sound. Hidizs S3 Pro amp/DAC uses four Panasonic capacitors to better compliment high-definition audio and provide more delicate, smooth sound quality. And unlike other products which support one tuning style, the S3 Pro is forward-looking in that it provides three different tuning styles for the connoisseur to choose from. You need only to change the firmware to experience the highly penetrating treble, a pleasing total balance, and a more prominent bass. 

We all have our preferences, some are keen on highs, some enjoy better balance, and some prefer more bass presence; others will oscillate different sound effects depending on mood. If you can get your hands on an S3 Pro, you’ll be able to choose between the three different styles of sound as you please.

Such power, versatility, and portability in a tiny audio dongle, what more could you ask for?  

Color. S3 Pro USB DAC/headphone amplifier dongle comes in classic black and silver. Choose black for a calm restraint or pick the cool, bright silver, they’ll look good with any device!

Design. S3 Pro  portable amp/DAC dongle eschews the basic rectangular design currently flooding the market and adopts a circular look to distinguish itself from the rest. The main body of the S3 Pro looks like a small coin, with a short piece of exquisite cable on the end, delicate and lovely.

Availability. Hidizs S3 Pro is currently available for ONLY $69. iPhone users can get a lightning adapter with the $82.99 S3Pro + iPhone OTG adapter package. (For more information on everything related to iPhones and Macbooks visit MacDentro. )This adapter supports in-line control/call functions and perfectly compliments Apple Music's rich lossless and high-definition audio library (HD Audio). iPhone users, too, can enjoy high-quality music, as well as the convenience of the Hidizs user experience