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 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.
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.