Hidizs AP100 Portable HiFi Audio Player Review
Usually when we hear the words HiFi Audio Player or DAPs the first thing that comes into our minds are names like FiiO, iBasso, HiFiMan, and even the expensive Astell&Kern. But today we are going to look at one new name in the market, a new DAP that offers the same performance and sound quality like most popular DAPs but at a much affordable price. Everybody, meet the Hidizs AP100, a portable HiFi Audio player that can play up to 24bit/192kHz and supports various audio formats, most specially lossless ones. Are you in the market looking for a high performance HiFi audio player that won’t break the bank? Check out my Hidizs AP100 review below, these could be your next or first HiFi audio player.
About the Hidizs Company
Hidizs is a company based in Dongguan City, Guangdong province, China. It was founded early in 2009, when pocket HiFi was just emerged. At that time, some pocket HiFi audio devices were sold in the market, however, the users were not fully satisfied with the price and performance of these pocket HiFi players. In order to produce some better pocket HiFi audio playing devices, some technicians engaged in HiFi audio R&D and senior HiFi fans gathered for the same purpose of joint creation of the new Hidizs brand.
In early 2010, Hidizs case team was set up to start research of global HiFi audio device and user market; in Oct 2012, Kaitai Technology started to introduce many talents of related specialties from home, abroad and officially set up Hidizs R&D team. In Jan 2014, Hidizs’ first pocket HiFi audio player AP100 was officially launch at CES, Les Vegas.
Today, Hidizs R&D team assembles a great number of professional technical elites and design talents. Hidizs is not only capable of providing the users with melodious and great music enjoyment, but also with product appearance worthy of appreciation. Rigorous and standard production & manufacturing processes lead to Hidizs’ each product in perfect and flawless quality.
Hidizs AP100 DAP Features
The Hidizs AP100 can play up to 24bit/192kHz format and supports various audio formats like WAV, FLAC, WMA, ALAC, OFF, AAC, APE and MP3. The company used a high quality SRC CS8422 24bit/192kHz digital audio receiver by Cirrus Logic. It’s also equipped with low jitter PLL and integrated asynchronous SRC. The CS8422 has the functions of clock recovery and input audio stream anti-jitter under the condition of ultra-low jitter without use of filter module in any external loop.
This is actually somewhat unique for a portable audio player, since you can play around with the SRC settings. You can cycle from 16bit/44.1kHz up to 24bit/192kHz. I prefer to use the last two highest settings as it provides the best sound quality amongst the SRC settings.
The Hidizs AP100 features a built-in Equalizer (EQ) powered with a CS48L10 chip, and it’s also built with CS4398 chip that serves as its D/A converter system. An AD823A HiFi filter chip is also present, together with dual crystal oscillators for precise playback of both 44.1K and 48K base audio. Finally, the Hidizs AP100 is powered by an Ingenic JZ4760B processor that is capable of decoding various audio formats, even ALAC lossless formats.
I don’t want to bore you with all this technical-stuff further. And I’m pretty sure you are much more interested in learning its sound quality and performance. So let me just show to you its full specifications and then let’s take a closer look on the Hidizs AP100 and learn more about its features and performance below.
Hidizs AP100 Specifications
|Audio Performance||Audio Format||WAV, FLAC, WMA, (lossless supported 24bit/96kHz), MP3, OGG, AAC, APE (Normal, High, Fast, ALAC, and so on, Highest 24Bit/192kHz|
|Frequency Response Range||± 0.02DV 20-20000Hz, ± 0.2DB 10-70000Hz|
|Total Harmonic Distortion||<0.003%|
|Po output power||L: 2.2Vrms, R: 2.2 Vrms|
|Lo output power||L: 1.2Vrms, R: 1.2 Vrms|
|Main Functions||Firmware upgrade||Supported, via microSD card|
|Headphone jack||3.5mm headphone jack|
|Line out||3.5mm headphone jack|
|Digital Audio output||3.5mm coaxial output|
|Digital audio input||3.5mm coaxial input|
|Built-in battery||3000 mAh|
|Power Interface||Micro USB|
|Data transmission||USB 2.0 high speed, read/write speed about 4.5MB/s|
|Extrenal memory||64GB TF card (Micro SD card) supports 64GB max|
|Separates files into tracks, according to CUE sheet and plays and skips tracks normally as with discrete song files|
|Support for user-defined custom playlists and maximum playback volume|
|Support breakpoint play|
|Screen Parameter||Screen Size||2.4-inch|
|Screen Material||TFT (26 million colors)|
|Chip Solution||CPU: JZ4760B, DAC: CS4938, SRC: CS8422, DSP: CS48L10, LPF: AD823A|
|Compatible OS||Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8, MAC OS X 10.6.5 and higher|
|Size||107mm x 65.5mm x 16.2mm|
Packaging and Closer Look
The whole package comes with two separate boxes. The larger box is for the Hidizs AP100, while the other one is for the leatherette case. All the included accessories are properly contained and segregated inside the AP100’s box.
The leatherette included isn’t really the best one there is, but it’s good enough to protect the unit, specially if you want to avoid getting it scratched.
The box of the Hidizs AP100 includes the DAP itself, a 3.5mm to coaxial cable, a microUSB to USB cable, a 3.5mm to 3.5mm interconnect cable, manual, warranty card, two LCD screen protectors and a cleaning cloth.
The Hidizs AP100 looks like it has an aluminum shell, but the company used a Magnesium alloy. The body itself measures 107mm x 65mm x 16mm and weighs 139 grams. It’s not slim but its portable enough.
It features a 2.4-inch LCD display at 340×240 resolution. This is not the best LCD display, and it suffers from discoloration or washed-out color when viewed at an angle. I’ve seen several cheap smartphones in the market with better display than this. Although not really a big deal since this is basically an audio player, and not a video player, but having a better LCD display is a plus factor for me.
In front, you can see the main buttons. The two smaller buttons just below the LCD are the volume control. The main circular button serves as the enter/play/pause button. The surrounding buttons serves as up/down/left/right or rewind/forward/previous/next. The lower button is the return button, but it also serves as a function button when you long press it while a file is selected, or a music is playing.
On top of the Hidizs AP100 you can see the power button, line out and headphone out. The microUSB port (for charging and file transfer), micro SD card slot, coax in and coax out are located at the bottom portion. The micro SD slot doesn’t have any cover and the card might accidentally be ejected. But if you use the leatherette jacket, the slot will be covered. Unfortunately the coax in and coax out gets covered as well.
By the way, the internal memory is 8GB only, and it supports up to 64GB of micro SD card. Hopefully it can support up to 128GB in the future, since 64GB will be maxed out easily specially if you are loading it with lossless files.
On the side are the SRC button, EQ button and a very tiny hole for the reset button. I wish they made the hole for the reset button a little bit bigger. It’s very hard to press it unless you have a needle. On the other side, there’s only the dedicated lock button.
Now it’s time to turn on the Hidizs AP100 and take a look inside.
Hidizs AP100 User Interface
The Hidizs AP100 has a very simple, easy to navigate and user friendly interface. If you can operate a mobile phone, then you can definitely use this one without any problems.
Long press the power button for about 3-4 seconds to turn on the Hidizs AP100. You will be greeted with the company’s logo, followed by two main (icon) options. Obviously, the first icon is for playing music, while the other one is the main options menu.
There are several options from the main menu, like the options you see above. By the way, if ever you decide to get one, be sure to update the device with the latest firmware. You can see the firmware I used at the time I wrote this review above. You can check and download the latest firmware from Hidizs’ support page.
I forgot to take a photo of the custom EQ but you can define your own EQ settings. You can configure the Pre-Amp level, 50Hz, 70Hz, 300Hz, 700Hz, 1kHz, 7kHz and 14kHz. After that, simply cycle through the different EQ preset settings until you reach your user defined settings. But for me, I’d rather keep things under the GEN settings.
Let’s leave the options menu and proceed with playing some music. There are only three main options in this menu (Now playing, My favorite and Play All). The FLAC and MP3 folder you see above are folders I created via Windows. If you placed a file in the root directory of the internal memory or the external micro SD card, it will be displayed in the root menu as well. Like the PinkNoise.flac you see above, it’s located in the root directory of the micro SD card.
This means that you have to manually arrange the files and put them inside a folder. It’s up to you to create the folder structure. The Hidizs AP1000 doesn’t sort or organize files according to album, artist or anything. It just sorts the files alphabetically. Hopefully a future firmware update will be released for this matter. But as of today, there are no words from the company about that feature.
To play music simply select one and press play. You can delete a single file by selecting that file and holding the Return button. Additionally, if you hold the return button while a music is playing, a secondary menu will appear (photo on the right). You can create a list of your favorite track via this way. Although I find it somewhat tedious and time consuming since you have to play each music and access the secondary function so that you can add songs to your favorite list.
The user interface may need more polishing, but when it comes to sound quality, the Hidizs AP100 didn’t disappoint me. I used some of my reliable headphones and IEMs, like the Heir Audio 3.Ai s, Ultimate Ears 900s, ATH-IM02, German Maestro GMP 435 s, B&W P7 and DN-2000. Since you can’t compare the audio quality just by looking at the DAP, I used the same headphones and audio files with other audio players, like the iPhone 5 and HiFiMAN HM 700.
For starters, the Hidizs AP100 is well balanced and transparent. It presented the music the way it should be without any coloration or distortion. The only thing that could change how the music sounds is if the headphones you are using have a very specific sound signature, or you changed the EQ settings. I couldn’t hear any hiss even at 80 (max volume) with my IEMs. Probably the most sensitive IEM at high volume could pick up some hissing or noise, but it would be very minimal or unnoticeable at all.
The Hidizs AP100 produced a warm sound, bass is present and I think it has extended lows. Headphones like the B&W P7 have a warm sound signature with a punchy bass, specially when the music calls for it. The AP100 can deliver that and drives the P7 without any problems. It’s just unfortunate that I don’t have a TOTL headphone with higher impedance to test it with, at the time I wrote this review.
As for mids and highs, they are also present as well. Presentation is detailed and accurate, and it doesn’t seem that the highs are rolled off or laid back. It doesn’t sound dull or muddy, or dark at all. It doesn’t add any sibilance, unless the music you are playing have overly emphasized TSS and TZZ and the IEM you are using are prone to sibilance. Voice sounds natural and pleasant to hear, whether its coming from a male or female artist. If you like acapella or music with more emphasize on vocals, this DAP won’t disappoint you as well.
When I compared the Hidizs AP100 against the HM700, I noticed differences in their sound signature. It doesn’t need a well-trained ear to tell their differences. The bass is more present with the AP100 and the mids sounds better. But the HM700 seems to sound brighter, probably too bright for me. The AP100 is also more detailed and has a better sound staging or representation of live performances or orchestra. And you can tell one instrument to the next one in an ensemble. Overall, I like the sound quality of the AP100 more, compared to the HM700.
Price and Where to Buy
The Hidizs AP100 portable music player has a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $299 USD. Although it originated from China, it’s already available in the US and can be purchased from popular online stores, like Amazon and some audiophiles stores. Hidizs is also offering 1 year free replacement and a 2-year free maintenance.
Hidizs AP100 Review: Conclusion
I have been using the Hidizs AP100 for more than a month already, and it’s also one of my sources when I test and audition headphones and IEMs. So far, the AP100 did not disappoint me. In terms of sound quality I don’t have any complains, specially at its price range. There are other portable players out there that are priced twice or even three times, and probably the AP100 sounds on par, if not better.
But the Hidizs AP100 is still young and there are still lots of room for improvement. The user interface could still be greatly improved and hopefully its internal memory, or support for external memory could be upgraded as well. The play/pause button and lock button feels wobbly, and hopefully the LCD screen would be improved with their next generation of DAP as well. The microSD card slot could also use some cover or protection (not the leatherette jacket) so that the card won’t accidentally get ejected or dislodged.
I think this newcomer has nailed it with their AP100. Its sound quality is great and has features that are unique with this player, like the SRC function. It also supports various sound formats, including lossless files, and supports up to 24bit/192kHZ encoding. Overall, the Hidizs AP100 is a great HiFi portable player with lots of potential. It did not disappoint me and I am impressed with its sound quality. Definitely a highly recommended. I can’t wait to see what the company has inline for us in the future.