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New DAP - Hidizs AP100 - Page 4

post #46 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by namele55777 View Post

I went down to try this player yesterday.  I am currently shopping around for an affordable music-playing combo and this AP100 deal looks pretty interesting to me.  Since there is not much info about this player, I hope I can contribute by giving my first impressions.  I am by no means an audiophile and my ears are definitely not as "well-trained" as some of my enthusiast friends smily_headphones1.gif But I will try to describe to the best of my abilities.

When I first tried it, my first reaction was... WOW.  The soundstage sounds really wide, but without being too laid-back, and the sound produced is smooth.  Very smooth.  It is pretty neutral sounding with a touch of brightness in the trebles.  The treble does roll off at the extreme end but I like how it was still able to present the violins in Eine Kleine Natchmusik clearly.  There is a clarity and brightness in the trebles which appeal to me without sounding excessively harsh or sibilant.  The mids are really smooth and lush.  Nothing much bad about it really.  There is a slight bump in the lower-mids which makes the music slightly warm.  This improves the tonality and makes the sound more musical.  The bass is deep and punchy without sounding overly boomy and overpowering.  It is subtle and well-controlled, which gives some oomph to the music.  It makes the player sound engaging as well.

Now the golden question... how does it sound compared to the X5?  I did try to compare it with a friend's X5, but he didn't let me use my sd card so I had to listen to his library instead -.- So I'm sorry if I cannot be the most objective here.  From what I have heard, the X5's soundstage sounds wider than the AP100.  The X5 is also slightly warmer, and the bass is more well-contained and less fuzzy.  The X5 also has a more detailed presentation.  I can hear each individual instrument more clearly and the music is generally more transparent than the AP100.  But don't get me wrong, the AP100's sound is still really really good.

BUT... and this is a HUGE but, I would recommend against this player.  The user interface leaves much to be desired, and it hanged multiple times when it tried to update its library with 15GB of music from my sd card.  Also, the external casing is made up of very thin metal, which doesn't feel very solid in my hand.  And the buttons are made of flimsy plastic which makes a loud "clak-clak" sound when pressed (think Nokia 3310)... not a very pleasant user experience.  There might also be warranty issues for a relatively new (and unknown) DAP manufacturer and lastly, there is the problem with its price.

It currently retails for SGD398 without the pre-order special.  The iBasso DX50 retails for about SGD320 (with shipping) while the X5 retails for SGD479.  In a way, the AP100 is priced nicely because to my ears, it sounds better than the DX50 and slightly inferior to the X5.  However, the buggy and laggy software and less-than-desirable build quality, doesn't justify the price.  For all those considering this, I would personally recommend that you bite the bullet and get the X5 instead.  It sounds better, comes from a reputable company and offers better specs all packaged in a solid aluminium shell.

I feel that the AP100 is a respectable first attempt by a new company trying its hand at building a decent DAP.  In the sonic department at least, they have succeeded, but could still improve on other aspects.  This shows that the sound engineers know what they are doing.  If Hidizs can continue to churn out great-sounding players with a better UI at affordable prices, they may be on to a winner here.

NOTE:
1) I tested the AP100 and X5 directly through the headphone out on my sony ex600's.
2) There is an interesting feature on the AP100 which apparently allows you to upsample your mp3 files from 16bit 44.1 to 24bit 192.  To my ears, the upsampled version sounds different from the original version, but I can't really tell if there is any improvements.  I prefer to stick to the original track though.  I'm really not too sure what this feature is about, so I shan't comment too much here.

Thanks for the information.
I was expecting a better price.
post #47 of 75

@ClieOS

 

can you explain the difference between capacitor coupled output vs dc coupled output and which is better.i hope i got those ok.
i did a little googling but those were not specific.

post #48 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by sbose View Post
 

@ClieOS

 

can you explain the difference between capacitor coupled output vs dc coupled output and which is better.i hope i got those ok.
i did a little googling but those were not specific.

 

In many amp circuit, there is often DC offset at the output. This means beside the AC signal (*music) we wanted, there is also a DC component which we don't want - as DC will reduce the transducer performance at best, and burn-out the transducer at worst. So to protect against DC, capacitor coupled output is used because DC can't pass through capacitor. It is also used because capacitor is generally cheap and easy to implement. The downside are, (1) like any passive component in the signal path, it degrades the signal by either adding noise or coloration (or both) and (2) it will create roll-off at the sub-bass region if the capacitance isn't big enough. Sometime capacitor output is just used as a precaution against accidental DC leakage, even though the output might not have any DC offset normally. So it is essential that the capacitors are big enough to do the job, but transparent enough not to affect the SQ - which isn't easy as some of the most transparent caps are often very small in capacitance. The right capacitance means the caps are often huge in size and not suitable for the application. Those that are small enough on the the other hand often carry stronger coloration. So picking the right capacitor to get the presentation you want is often considered a dark art.

 

First note: 'DC coupled' is actually the wrong name. It is DC, or direct-coupled - so the 'DC' doesn't have anything to do with direct current. An amp circuit can be designed carefully in such a way (often with the use of dual +/- power rail) that the DC offset is so small that it is negligible. This means you don't need caps on the output and therefore no extra noise, roll-off or coloration. The downside is the design is often more complex and costly. Technically, you will always want a direct couple amp because it should be theoretically better sounding.

post #49 of 75
Moving forward your "easy-to-understand" technical tip will shed some light for those who seek info on the above subject.......when googled.

TY. smile.gif
post #50 of 75
post #51 of 75

Got it today.  Full review should be posted in a few days ;)

 

Just spent a few hours playing and comparing it to X5 and HM700, using RE400, IM03, and T51i.  Here is my first impression.

 

From sound perspective, I do agree with namele55777 original description above.  The sound is neutral (hardly sense any coloration), very detailed and natural, very musical, bright but not overwhelming, and maybe a bit of warmth to it (not your typical digital cold sound).  The soundstage width is better than X5, but not quite at the same level of HM700 with balanced RE400B.  But there is a lot more to AP100 sound.  The "magic" SRC button of Sample Rate Conversion (up-sampling from 16b/44.1k all the way up to 24b/192k) is VERY noticeable in terms of sound quality improvement.  I'm using only 320kbps mp3s and FLAC files, and the sound becomes more dynamic, with a better layering and separation, and fuller body.  I went back'n'forth testing it with different headphones, different files, switching between different DAPs, and the results were consistent.  It's like you are adding a quality amp with re-sampling.

 

Don't get me wrong, I love X5, but when you up-sample AP100 to 24b/192k, it makes X5 sound a bit flat and dull in comparison.  Regarding build quality of AP100, it is not that flimsy or thin.  Yes, X5 feels more solid in your hands and brushed metal finish adds to distinguish it, but AP100 feels solid as well.  I do like the layout of buttons, very one-hand friendly.  The interface is not as nice as X5 in terms of scrolling wheel browsing and GUI, but system setting and playback setting menus are kind of similar.  I don't have a big library of music files, so didn't run into any lockup problems scanning what I already had on microSD card.  Overall, firmware felt solid and responsive.  There was no pauses or skips or hiccups, fast forward scanning was fast and I like how similar to X5 it continues playing as you advance time marker until you stop f-fwd.  Not bad for a freshman release.

 

For those thinking between X5 or AP100, there are a few things to consider.  If you have a large library of files and need a portable DAP to accommodate 256GB + whatever you can load on your OTG usb expansion - X5 is the way to go because it's capable of that.  AP100 has 8GB of internal storage and microSD slot that supports only 64GB - still plenty of combined storage, but not at the same level as X5.  I hope in a future they might have firmware update to support 128GB, after all, both X5 and AP100 use the same dual core Ingenics 4760B CPU.  Also, if you need USB DAC to use with your laptop, X5 can support that while AP100 can't.  Another thing to keep in mind, AP100 HO and LO 3.5mm jacks are TRS, so I had to use TRRS to TRS adapter to drive my T51i (since it has in-line remote/mic) - not the end of the world considering most premium headphones either have audio cable or have removable cable with a choice of audio or phone control.  In case of Beyer's T51i, using cable adapter worked really well.  On an upside, AP100 is only $299 (http://penonaudio.com/Hidizs-AP100) and while taking advantage of hardware up-sample conversion to 24b/192k you are getting a sound quality which is a step above X5, not to mention the soundstage is wider and deeper as well.  Overall, I consider both X5 and AP100 as keepers, each one has it's strong points.  Though I was considering getting a portable amp to improve X5 sound quality, to add that extra dimension to sound, now I actually got it in a form of AP100.  As an example, using my Note 2 with A200p DAC driving T51i yielded a better sound quality results than driving T51i directly from X5.  Now, I can get the same results (and even better) driving T51i directly from AP100.

 

Once I have full review ready, I will also include a lot of detailed pictures.

 

a little teaser:

 


Edited by twister6 - 5/30/14 at 9:38pm
post #52 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by twister6 View Post
 

Got it today.  Full review should be posted in a few days ;)

 

Just spent a few hours playing and comparing it to X5 and HM700, using RE400, IM03, and T51i.  Here is my first impression.

 

From sound perspective, I do agree with namele55777 original description above.  The sound is neutral (hardly sense any coloration), very detailed and natural, very musical, bright but not overwhelming, and maybe a bit of warmth to it (not your typical digital cold sound).  The soundstage width is better than X5, but not quite at the same level of HM700 with balanced RE400B.  But there is a lot more to AP100 sound.  The "magic" SRC button of Sample Rate Conversion (up-sampling from 16b/44.1k all the way up to 24b/192k) is VERY noticeable in terms of sound quality improvement.  I'm using only 320kbps mp3s and FLAC files, and the sound becomes more dynamic, with a better layering and separation, and fuller body.  I went back'n'forth testing it with different headphones, different files, switching between different DAPs, and the results were consistent.  It's like you are adding a quality amp with re-sampling.

 

Don't get me wrong, I love X5, but when you up-sample AP100 to 24b/192k, it makes X5 sound a bit flat and dull in comparison.  Regarding build quality of AP100, it is not that flimsy or thin.  Yes, X5 feels more solid in your hands and brushed metal finish adds to distinguish it, but AP100 feels solid as well.  I do like the layout of buttons, very one-hand friendly.  The interface is not as nice as X5 in terms of scrolling wheel browsing and GUI, but system setting and playback setting menus are kind of similar.  I don't have a big library of music files, so didn't run into any lockup problems scanning what I already had on microSD card.  Overall, firmware felt solid and responsive.  There was no pauses or skips or hiccups, fast forward scanning was fast and I like how similar to X5 it continues playing as you advance time marker until you stop f-fwd.  Not bad for a freshman release.

 

For those thinking between X5 or AP100, there are a few things to consider.  If you have a large library of files and need a portable DAP to accommodate 256GB + whatever you can load on your OTG usb expansion - X5 is the way to go because it's capable of that.  AP100 has 8GB of internal storage and microSD slot that supports only 64GB - still plenty of combined storage, but not at the same level as X5.  I hope in a future they might have firmware update to support 128GB, after all, both X5 and AP100 use the same dual core Ingenics 4760B CPU.  Also, if you need USB DAC to use with your laptop, X5 can support that while AP100 can't.  Another thing to keep in mind, AP100 HO and LO 3.5mm jacks are TRS, so I had to use TRRS to TRS adapter to drive my T51i (since it has in-line remote/mic) - not the end of the world considering most premium headphones either have audio cable or have removable cable with a choice of audio or phone control.  In case of Beyer's T51i, using cable adapter worked really well.  On an upside, AP100 is only $299 (http://penonaudio.com/Hidizs-AP100) and while taking advantage of hardware up-sample conversion to 24b/192k you are getting a sound quality which is a step above X5, not to mention the soundstage is wider and deeper as well.  Overall, I consider both X5 and AP100 as keepers, each one has it's strong points.  Though I was considering getting a portable amp to improve X5 sound quality, to add that extra dimension to sound, now I actually got it in a form of AP100.  As an example, using my Note 2 with A200p DAC driving T51i yielded a better sound quality results than driving T51i directly from X5.  Now, I can get the same results (and even better) driving T51i directly from AP100.

 

Once I have full review ready, I will also include a lot of detailed pictures.

 

a little teaser:

 

 

Very good and interesting first impressions, looking forward to your full review

post #53 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post
 

 

In many amp circuit, there is often DC offset at the output. This means beside the AC signal (*music) we wanted, there is also a DC component which we don't want - as DC will reduce the transducer performance at best, and burn-out the transducer at worst. So to protect against DC, capacitor coupled output is used because DC can't pass through capacitor. It is also used because capacitor is generally cheap and easy to implement. The downside are, (1) like any passive component in the signal path, it degrades the signal by either adding noise or coloration (or both) and (2) it will create roll-off at the sub-bass region if the capacitance isn't big enough. Sometime capacitor output is just used as a precaution against accidental DC leakage, even though the output might not have any DC offset normally. So it is essential that the capacitors are big enough to do the job, but transparent enough not to affect the SQ - which isn't easy as some of the most transparent caps are often very small in capacitance. The right capacitance means the caps are often huge in size and not suitable for the application. Those that are small enough on the the other hand often carry stronger coloration. So picking the right capacitor to get the presentation you want is often considered a dark art.

 

First note: 'DC coupled' is actually the wrong name. It is DC, or direct-coupled - so the 'DC' doesn't have anything to do with direct current. An amp circuit can be designed carefully in such a way (often with the use of dual +/- power rail) that the DC offset is so small that it is negligible. This means you don't need caps on the output and therefore no extra noise, roll-off or coloration. The downside is the design is often more complex and costly. Technically, you will always want a direct couple amp because it should be theoretically better sounding.

 

If all electronic components were perfectly matched and come with no derivation within time, there is no need of a coupling capacitor.

Integrated monolithic circuits don't need them in theory.

post #54 of 75

If only everything is perfect.

post #55 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClieOS View Post
 

If only everything is perfect.

 

Here you can see a French tube amp maker... that build and sell "A class" tube amps without ANY passive component on the signal, ONLY tubes :D

WHEN WE WANT WE CAN !
We have to try harder !

:D:D:D

http://www.audiotub.fr/site1.htm

 


Edited by Silverprout - 5/31/14 at 12:30pm
post #56 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by twister6 View Post
 

Got it today.  Full review should be posted in a few days ;)

 

Just spent a few hours playing and comparing it to X5 and HM700, using RE400, IM03, and T51i.  Here is my first impression.

 

twister6, how does it compare to HM700 paired with IM50 or IM03? Can you please add IM50s to your full detailed review? Thanks


Edited by ozkan - 6/4/14 at 12:07am
post #57 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by ozkan View Post
 

 

twister6, how does it compare to HM700 paired with IM50 or IM03? Can you please add IM50s to your full detailed review? Thanks

 

Sure, will add IM50 to the full review.  I also came up with a cool storage case for it, modifying Pelican 1010 case, and will post pictures illustrating that.  In general, IM50 pairs up VERY nicely with AP100, the soundstage gets a little bit wider (in comparison to X5 and smartphone), and overall sound gets more full (that 24b/192k gives an extra body to it) and a little better separation (lows, mids, treble).

 

With HM700, it has balanced wired TRRS output (no ground), so any regularly wired TRS or TRRS (w/inline remote) plugged into HM700 will yield an annoying hiss noise.  Almost like a ground floor of noise level raised 6dB up or something like that.  You can hear it well without playing any music, and once playing music - it really affects S/N ratio, and annoying in general.  You can fix that by using included adapter which brings up ground from micro-usb connector of HM700, but I'm not a fan of that adapter.  In my opinion HM700 is great paired up with balance-wired RE400B or RE700B where you get an amazing super wide sound and extra details.  HM700 + RE400B sounds better than HM700 + RE400 w/adapter.  But to answer your question, once you plug in IM50/IM03 into HM700, you get hissing noise, the soundstage is not as wide as with AP100, and the sound it a bit flatter in comparison to AP100.

post #58 of 75

Thank you twister6. Very much appreciated:)

post #59 of 75
Quote:
Originally Posted by ozkan View Post
 

Thank you twister6. Very much appreciated:)


Updated review with a general impression of IM50/IM03 pair up with AP100 (its at the end of the paragraph before X5 vs AP100 pictures). http://www.head-fi.org/t/721487/review-of-hidizs-ap100-portable-hifi-music-player

post #60 of 75

Hope it's not to late to update this. Just got it in today (I will be reviewing it at HFN). It is a very good sounding player. I've only had it behind some of my favourite 16 and 24 bit files for about an hour. The non-user EQ presets are awful, but the SRC re-sampler is interesting. I've not really spent enough time to suss things properly, but dear me, bass just bubbles out of nowhere when sampled up to 192 over the source's 88kHz. I'm enjoying 24/88 Daft Punk right now. Very much.

 

Seems to have very good resolution behind the Noble Audio K10, though background noise is evident. It's not a lot of background noise, but more than I had expected. The X5/X3 have less. Ditto DX90 and AK100. But this player sounds better than the AK100 stock. It really does seem to have a good balance of low-mid detailed sound and good resolution. 

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