Friday, 26 September 2014

Review: Hidizs AP100 DAP

Firstly I would like to thank Rhapsodio for lending me this AP100 sample to review, I will try and write as honest a review possible. These are my subjective findings after many hours listening time.

Gear Used:
Hidizs AP100 > German Maestro GMP 8.35D, Westone UM Pro30, Dunu DN-2000 and Audiofly AF-160
I did not try the AP100 with an external amp or DAC, I thought I would review it purely based on its standalone DAP capabilities.


General Specifications:
·         Screen:2.4 inch 320*240 TFT 260 Thousand color screen 
·         Supported Audio: WAV,FLAC,WMA,MP3,OGG,AAC,APE(NORMAL,HIGHLEVEL),and ALAC loss-less audio formats
·         Frequency response range:±0.02DB 20-20000Hz/±0.2DB 10-70000Hz
·         SNR:108dB
·         Distortion total harmonic:0.003%
·         PO output power L2.2Vrms R:2.2Vrms.
·         LO output power:  L1.2Vrms R:1.2Vrms.
·         Isolation:92db
·         Buit-in memory: 8gb
·         External memory: Micro SD card maximum support 64GB
·         Weight:156G
·         Earphone: earphone interface 3.5mm
·         Line out:3.5mm earphone interface
·         Digital audio output:3.5mm coaxial output
·         ŸDigital audio input:3.5mm coaxial input
·         MSRP: $299

Packaging, Accessories and Build Quality:
Packaging is sleek and very low key but is made of quality card. It is all black with an image of the AP100 embossed on the front, all specs and info is printed in silver on the back of the box. Out of this box slides another with a tray that holds the AP100 in a foam cut out, accessories can be found in a small box beneath this and everything is well packaged and held in place.

Accessories included are the normal micro USB cable, 3.5mm to 3.5mm interconnect, 3.5mm to normal coax cable, screen protectors and I also received a leather case for it. It also has a quick start guide, manual and warranty card. Cannot complain here.

Build quality is good overall, the housing is all meta with very little flex, but the main buttons feel a little cheap, which detracts from the overall look and feel of the AP100. All ports are tight and I never had any connection issues. Overall the build quality is good, just a shame about the cheap feeling plastic buttons in the middle.




Features, UI and Ease of use:
The AP100 features the normal headphone out, a line-out, and also coax in and out, so it can be used as a DAC only too. Unfortunately the USB is only for file management and firmware update, not for DAC use. It has multiple EQ and SRC so you can upsample. Packed full of features, it is a truly versatile DAP.

The UI is very good, and simple, it is easy to use but unfortunately doesn't support organizing by album/artist. You either get a list in alphabetical order of all songs you have, or normal folder view. I hope this is a feature they integrate in the future, because with 8gb internal and 64gb external memory it can take a while to scroll through all the albums until you find the one you want to listen to. The rest of the UI is good, album artwork is displayed nicely, with track info on the now playing screen. The settings menu has a lot of options, as does the playback menu, so just play around until you find your favourite settings, or take a look at the well explained guide.

Ease of use, well the buttons are neatly laid out and it takes no time at all to remember their location. the menus are intuitive and it is a very easy device to use overall. Everything is clearly labelled and I cannot see anyone finding this DAP hard to use.





Sound:

I will just write a general section about the sound, without splitting it between lows, mids and highs.

The overall signature is a little laid back, a little to the warmer side of sound but with exceptional detail. It has a pleasant fullness to the sound, but unlike the Fiio X3 this does not lead to less clarity. Playing with the SRC settings on the AP100 also gives a little more body to the sound, which can greatly help depending on the headphones being used. The stereo image blends perfectly, I cannot hint at any imbalance and it is a very natural sounding player.
The highs still retain their shimmer and sparkle throughout, the mids are smooth and the lows extend low and have excellent impact and rumble. The sound is quite linear, giving maybe a slight tilt to the lows. It is a resolving player, and depending on the headphones, it renders well recorded tracks with incredible emotion, it does not sound clinical or harsh, it doesn't throw detail at you, instead it envelops you with incredible reality, it is true to the source and not to its own colouring.

So overall what do I think of the new AP100, well I love the sound and form factor, it is a little on the bulky side but I can live with that. The UI is excellent compared to many Chinese DAP's, the build quality is good and the sound does not disappoint, the micro SD expansion will allow for a moderately large library and you can always carry spare with you should you need more space. It supports all major codecs, even high resolution files, now if only they could implement the library update feature and have it sort the files by artist, album and so on that would make this a fantastic DAP.
In terms of SQ it beats the X3 hands down, and the iPod classic just sounds a little boring and "digital" with a coldness that I cannot detect with the natural sounding AP100.


The big question, is it worth the $$$, I would say yes, it is easy to use and very functional with an array of inputs and outputs to suit every listener, and the sound quality is excellent. The internal amp is powerful enough as well to power most headphones and IEM's, so no need to carry around an external amp/DAC.