In this review, I’m checking out the Truthear SHIO dongle DAC. The SHIO features a low-key black chassis and Dual CS43198 DAC chips. It’s priced at $60.
Disclaimer: This sample was provided by Shenzhen Audio for an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own based on my experience with the product.
Design & Features
The SHIO boasts a chassis enveloped in textured faux leather, lending it a premium feel. The device features a USB-C data port on one end, while the 3.5mm single-ended and 4.4mm balanced outputs occupy the other. The unit also sports dedicated volume buttons and a discreet LED on the side.
With SHIO, you have the option to switch between dual gain modes with ease. Simply press both volume buttons simultaneously, and you can switch between the 2 modes. The LED light indicator will glow red in low gain mode and green in high gain mode.
Under the hood, the SHIO employs Dual CS43198 DAC chips that deliver an impressive signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and dynamic range of 130 dB. The unit supports PCM up to 32-bit / 768kHz and DSD256 but does not support MQA.
While the documentation does not specify which output the 150mW @ 32Ω rating pertains to, I found that the SHIO provided ample power for my IEMs without any trouble. However, it may not be the best choice for more demanding headphones such as the HD650.
SHIO’s sound is a treat for fans of Cirrus Logic DAC chips. Its presentation is smooth and relaxed, with a subtle boost in the lows that gives bass notes a weighty, authoritative feel. The warm and inviting midrange boasts excellent resolution and a pitch-black background, making it an ideal match for neutral or brighter IEMs.
The rich and articulate vocals are a highlight of the SHIO’s midrange, which is full-bodied and nuanced without becoming congested (assuming your IEMs can handle it). While the soundstage can feel somewhat narrow, it improved substantially when I switched to the balanced output.
The treble on the SHIO is laid back, with a focus on the lower bands rather than the upper treble range. Despite this, the detail retrieval is excellent, though positional cues may be average due to the narrower stage.
Overall, the SHIO’s sound signature is sure to please bassheads and fans of the Cirrus Logic DAC chips alike. Its smooth presentation and weighty lows make for an enjoyable listening experience, while the rich and nuanced midrange adds depth to vocals and instruments. If you’re looking for a dongle DAC that can handle a variety of music genres and deliver a satisfying listening experience, the SHIO is definitely worth considering.
D/C Chip: CS43198 *2pcs
Sampling Rate (Maximum): PCM 44.1kHz – 768kHz | DSD64 – DSD256
Interface: Type-C input
3.5mm single-ended output
4.4mm balanced output
THD+N (@1kHz) (A-WT): 3.5mm SE: <0.00025% / 4.4mm BAL: <0.0002%
Output: 3.5mm SE: 1.4Vrms(Low Gain), 2Vrms (High Gain) / 4.4mm BAL: 2Vrms(Low Gain), 4Vrms (High Gain)
Output Power: 150mW x2 @32Ω / 55mW x2 @300Ω
SNR: 130dB (A-WT)
Dynamic Range: 130dB (A-WT)
Frequency Response: 20-20kHz (±0.1dB)
Background Noise: <1.6uVrms (A-WT)