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Hidizs AP100 Portable HiFi Audio Player

Rating:
3.8/5,
  1. Cinder
    A Valiant First Attempt From Hidizs
    Written by Cinder
    Published Sep 5, 2016
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Neutral output, variety in output types, premium construction, simple updating process, dedicated EQ button, tactile metal buttons
    Cons - slow read/write speeds

    IMG_0987.jpg

     

    -Introduction-

    Hidizs has been around for a number of years now, and released their first portable audio player back in 2014. In honor of their upcoming portable audio player, the AP60, I’ll be reviewing its older brother, the AP100. It’s a couple years old now, but I won’t be cutting it any slack.
    Find the official Hidizs AP100 page here.
    You can find the AP100 on Penon Audio for $230, here.
    Disclaimer: This review is based upon a sample unit provided to me by a manufacturer or distributor in exchange for my honest opinion and un-edited words. I do not profit in any way from the writing of the review. I would like to thank Hidizs and Penon Audio for sending me this review unit
    Preference and Bias: Before reading a review, it is worth mentioning that there is no way for a reviewer to objectively pass judgment on the enjoy-ability of a product: such a thing is inherently subjective. Therefore, I find it necessary for you to read and understand what I take a natural liking to and how that might affect my rating of a product.
    My ideal sound signature would be an extended sub-bass with a leveled, but textured, bass. The mids should be slightly less pronounced than the treble, but still ahead of the bass. I prefer a more bright upper range.
    Tech Specs
    1. Screen: 2.4inch TFT, 320px*240px
    2. Chip solution : CPU :JZ4760B DAC :CS4398 SRC: CS8422 DSP : OS48L10 LPF : AD823A
    3. Support Audio Format :WAV.FLAC,WNA(lossless supported 24bit/96khz) ,MP3,OGG,AAC,APE(NO RMAL,HIGH level 24bit/96khz,FAST 24BIT/192KHZ),ALAC and so on,highest 24bit/192khz
    4. Frequency response range :±0.02DB 20–20000HZ ±0.2DB 10–70000HZ
    5. SNR :108DB
    6. Total harmonic Distortion :<0.003%
    7. Separation :>92DB
    8. Po Output power : L : 2.2Vms R: 2.2Vms
    9. Lo Output power : L : 1.2Vms R: 1.2Vms
    10. Headphone jack : 3.5mm
    11. Line out : 3.5mm
    12. Digital audio output/input : 3.5mm coaxial
    13. Built-in battery :3000mAh
    14. Power interface ;Micro USB
    15. Built-in memory : 8GB
    16. Date transmission : USB 2.0 high speed ,reading/writing speed about 4.5MB/s
    17. External memory :64GB TF card (Micro SD card) supports 64GB max
    18. Support for user-defined custom playlists and maximum playback volume
    19. Size :107*65.5*16.2mm
    20. Weight : 156g
    Please note that the above specs were taken directly from Penon Audio’s AP100 sales page, and modified for cleanliness and readability.

    -Functionality-

    IMG_0994.jpg
     
    IMG_0996.jpg
    In the event that Hidizs releases new firmware for the AP100, all you need to do is extract a ZIP file to a micro-SD card and run the built-in updater. It’s a very simple process.
    Hidizs had the fantastic idea to put a dedicated EQ button on the top of the left side. Pressing it will cycle through your EQ presets. There are a number of general-purpose presets built by Hidizs for your use, most of which I found to be generally not useful. However, there are a couple user-defined EQ presets available for you to set yourself. But wait! There’s more! You can modify each of the preset options that come pre-loaded on the AP100. While it would be nice to also be able to change their names, I’ll take what I can get.
    IMG_1049.jpg

     
    The AP100 comes with a very small 8Gb of internal storage. For a $230 device, I expect there to be more than that. And yes, I do realize that in 2014, back when the AP100 was released, that was reasonable. However, it’s no longer 2014. Thankfully, you can add up to a 128Gb micro-SD card to the AP100 to expand its storage.
    The AP100 is capable of playing “ WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, AAC, APE and ALAC. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think there’s a single consumer music file I’ve ever come across that isn’t on that list. Even when converting the same file between formats and replaying back on the AP100, I didn’t notice any real difference in quality or presentation.
    Since launch, Hidizs has added gapless playback, channel balance, M3U playback capabilities, support for OTG playlists, DSD support, and more. While I don’t think the AP100 will be getting any more attention once the AP60 is released, it’s nice to know that it did get its fair share of attention.
    The UI isn’t as modern as, say, an Android device’s media player, but isn’t a slouch either. The now-playing screen is pleasant and un-cluttered. My favorite part is the fact that the AP100 actually displays album art fairly well, despite it’s low resolution screen.
     
    IMG_1000.jpg

    -Sound Signature-

    I don’t really have much to say here, given the AP100’s very neutral sound signature. It doesn’t have any noticeable coloring, and is leaps and bounds better than whatever you will find in a smartphone (barring possibly the upcoming LG V20). This makes it really easy to find great pairings with the AP100. Furthermore, you can create a very comprehensive EQ preset to enhance your listening experience. For example, the AAW Q sounded greatly improved by turning down some of the upper-treble, and increasing a little of the sub-bass.
    Pairings
    I’ve found the AP100 to pair well with: The Penon IEM, Shozy Zero, Rock Jaw Alfa Genus V2, and AAW Q, and ATH-M50x. Unfortunately, the inclusion of line controls has rendered the vast majority of my collection useless given the AP100 can’t figure out how to deal with a TRRS connector.

    -Build-

    Hidizs really nailed the AP100’s build quality on the head. Its shell is built from a matte-finished metal. The AP100 feels very solid and premium, as even the buttons are built from metal, and have a satisfying click to them.
    The screen is a TFT, 2.4 inch low resolution screen. It works well enough, and has decent color reproduction. I am particularly impressed at how well I can read it in direct sunlight.
    IMG_0988.jpg

     ​
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    -Packaging and Unboxing-

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     ​
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    -Accessories-

    1. USB cable
    2. Screen protector
    3. 3.5mm audio cable
    4. Silicone case
    5. Manual
    6. Free PENON IEM (When buying from Penon Audio)

    -Summary-

    The AP100 is a premium-feeling, excellent sounding digital audio player. It can play basically any audio file under the sun. Since it's a couple years old now, the price has dropped to a nice $230, placing it pretty competitively against DAPs like the FiiO X5, making it a pretty good value for someone looking for good sound quality and a portable, premium package.
      mgunin and Light - Man like this.
    1. View previous replies...
    2. Cinder
      Yeah, I've always been curious about iBasso, but never really had the innate push to go and get one.
      Cinder, Sep 10, 2016
    3. nimnz
      which one has better amplification q1 or this?
      nimnz, Oct 19, 2016
    4. mgunin
      So nice to hear that AP100 still keeps its value against some more expensive competitors. Really versatile, convenient and great to use on a daily basis!
      mgunin, Mar 21, 2017
  2. BruceBanner
    Good Sound, long overdue dedicated EQ button, bit heavy and bit pricey.
    Written by BruceBanner
    Published Sep 26, 2015
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Sound, dedicated EQ button
    Cons - Weight, Price.
    [​IMG]

    Introduction

    The AP100 is an entry submission DAP from the guys of Hidizs. Weighing a hefty 156g it's clearly not a slim DAP, but rather aimed for those wanting more power to drive harder headphones (hopefully without the need for amping). Retail price here in Australia is $330AUD (purchased from Minidisc.com.au), it can be had for cheaper on Amazon for USA residents.

    Specifications (lifted from site)

    Audio
    - Supports Hi Resolution 24bit/192kHz
    - Supports Audio Format WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, AAC, APE (Normal, High level) and ALAC
    - Frequency response range +/-0.02dB 20-20000Hz / +/-0.2dB 10-70000Hz
    - SNR 110dB
    - Distortion plus noise < 0.003%
    - PO Output Power L:2.2Vrms R:2.2Vrms
    - LO Output Power L:2.2Vrms R:2.2Vrms
    - Isolation >105dB

    Main Functions
    - Firmware Upgrade Supported, By 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 3000mAh (rated 10hrs playback)
    - 8GB Internal Memory
    - External Memory Micro SD card (up to 64gb, I believe higher is possible)
    - Support for user-defined EQ

    Hardware Specs
    - CPU 4760B processor
    - DAC chip CS8422 24/192 digital audio receiver by Cirrus Logic
    - EQ chip CS48L10 coloration chip for superios hardware EQ
    - Audio decoder chip CS4398 high indexes audio decoder
    - Audio filter chip AD823A a dual channel filter chip
    - Oscillator chip D350 & D348

    General Specs
    - Dimension 65.5 * 107 * 16.2 mm
    - Weight 156g
    - Display TFT 320x240 26 million colors
    -Compatible Operating Systems Linux, Mac OS, Windows 2003, XP, 2008, Win7 and Win8

    Other worthy 'mentionings' that I feel they under sell is the two unique buttons that I have never seen on a DAP before, a SRC button (Source) and a EQ button (Equalizer), more on this later...


    Firmware

    Before I grabbed this DAP I was reading quite a fair bit about it on headfi forums. It appeared that the staff of Hidizs were quite proactive in answering members questions and obliging with feature requests.
    Since the AP100 was launched there have been 2 major firmware upgrades and several key features added to improve the functionality and appeal of this DAP. The following items below I point out as being particularly noteworthy;

    1) Now supports DAC
    2) Now supports DSD
    3) Gapless Playback supported
    4) OTG Playlist support (ability to create several Playlists)
    5) Added 3 Custom EQ slots
    6) Lyrics display supported (.lrc file only)
    7) Supports M3U playlist files
    8) Supports OTG storage management
    9) Channel Balance

    I was impressed to say the least, all this from Feb-April '15.


    [​IMG]

    EQ (50hz, 70hz, 300hz, 700hz, 1kHz, 7kHz, 14kHz)

    Ok, let's get straight down to why I actually bought an AP100. For me there was one thing that stood out on this DAP from all others... that EQ button.
    Having a dedicated EQ button has been long on my wish list, for years I have searched for such a thing only to encounter it done once elsewhere (the Cowon E2) and not that well implemented.
    I have even mastered the art of toggling EQ pretty fast on a Cowon i9+ (can be applied to most Cowon DAPs), you can see here for demonstration purposes.
    But it's not the same as being able to hit a single button.

    Ok... now before the purists wade in and talk about 'Flat' and 'Normal' being best, I want to point this very simple fact out. Not all albums are recorded equal. I have many many albums that sound 'off', a small tweak to Bass or Treble undeniably fixes the problem. It is not about listening to how the artist intended... the recording engineer/studio stuffed up, plain and simple.
    If you are somebody who has never come across this before, then you're one of the lucky ones. I can mention many albums and tracks whereby I would argue profusely that things improve once EQ'd.
    Sometimes the treble is overdone, and some albums can be very fatiguing, it is not always a solution to simply up the bass, I have to reduce treble somewhat as well, and the harshness goes away and the tracks become less fatiguing and more balanced.

    And if it's not the tracks that are at fault then it can most definitely be the headphones. Perhaps you find a pair of headphones that are very comfy to use, but have some faults, a good EQ can help solve this problem.
    There's no doubt about it, an EQ is a really handy thing to have.

    So why has it taken so long for a manufacturer to decide to grace users with a dedicated button that can toggle through presets and custom settings?!
    Why do we always (usually) have to go through a myriad of system settings to get to EQ presets? By the time you select the one you're looking for the song is half way through! :|

    Rockbox tried to give us something similar via using the shortcut feature and being able to bind Bass and Treble adjustment. In theory it would be great, but in reality the changes applied take so long to materialise that 30secs later you realise you did too much bass or too little, make a second adjustment and so on so forth and eventually by the time you have it right for that song, it's over.
    I wonder if the iBasso DX50 or DX90 does better in this regard than the Sansa Clips and Fuzes?

    Anyway... here we are treated to a glorious button that when pushed during song playback, toggles through the presets and custom settings instantly, no lag, no delay, immediate change [​IMG]

    There are six presets (Off, Rock, Pop, Classical, Jazz, Bass) given as standard and three custom slots to use. When pressing the EQ button it cycles through each till you get back to the first preset.

    But it gets better. I discovered that all of the Presets (Rock, Pop etc) can actually be tinkered with also and saved accordingly (I imagine a factory reset would reapply their default settings). Thus in reality it means that you have eight custom slots to muck around with, the only issue is you cannot change the names of the Presets.
    Perhaps you like each preset, but wished to just slightly change their FRR, well... now you can.

    This works really well in practice. I have altered all mine to cycle through a pattern of 'off/Flat' > 'slightly more bass' > 'slightly less bass' > repeat.

    In days gone by I used to abuse DSP features a lot, nowadays I prefer to stick to something that sounds flat and neutral as possible, yet just lifting or lowering ever so slightly some FR ranges to compensate accordingly.

    It's not perfect, but it's a start. Let's hope other manufacturers catch on and present us with an EQ button. It could be better. For example, let us change the names of presets and custom slots. Even better, an automatic system could be put in place if there was some way to mark or tag an album to using a specified FRR band, we could do away with the button altogether!


    [​IMG]

    Sound Quality

    Hidizs market it as a 'Pocket HiFi', to my ears that lives up to the name. It feels premium in build quality and sounds premium to my ears. I hear no background hiss, it seems black to my ears, yet can attain high volumes without distortion or growing hiss (unlike Cowon and Sansa). The EQ allows for subtle or heavy manipulation of sound, whilst at the same time not sounding artificial, but rather accurate and precise. Whatever you prefer to hear (warm or cold) I am sure a sound signature is possible with this player that will fit your needs (or indeed make up for headphone deficiencies).
    I am not a Hi Res person, all I have used on the player to date so far are 320kbps MP3 files. I may throw some FLAC and WAV on for testing purposes, but to be honest if I notice a significant difference I will be wary, as all ABX testing so far that I have undertaken suggests I cannot hear a difference between 192kbps MP3 files and FLAC let alone 320kbps.

    The Alien Shozy did a remarkable job of making the Flat/Neutral FRR sound exciting and engaging, but I cannot lie, The AP100 (with the EQ feature) allows me to push past what the Shozy can achieve for certain tracks and albums. If a record didn't require a tweak, then it becomes neck and neck as to which 'sounds better' with usually it being just different sounding and not necessarily a clear winner. But in case of a song or album requiring that additional FR help, the AP100 wins. For example, I have never heard Soundgarden's Louder than Love album sound better than on the AP100.

    I have to point out that the AP100 also shares a similar trait of the Alien Shozy in that it also seems to be extremely low level hiss, certainly I cannot detect any with my PFE 232's connected (even at max volume). This of course is contrary to Cowon and Sansa players to which I can detect quite a fair amount of hiss (model and IEM dependent). A true hiss test for me is using my Yamaha EPH100's (which are very hissy on Cowon and Sansas) they don't hiss at all on the AP100.

    And talking about volume, yes it goes very high. 80 is the maximum value, giving increments of 1.25% at each push (better than say Cowon's 40 steps).
    I have replay-gained my music to being 93db, and I can comfortably listen anywhere between 65-80 and not feel I need more volume, and those that know me well know that I listen at insane volume levels. [​IMG]
    I imagine a non replay-gained album (modern releases usually sits around 97-99db) to be extremely loud even at around 50-60/80, for headphones that need more room to grow, there is room.

    There is one other aspect that I have not touched upon yet which is relevant to sound quality, and that is the SRC (Source) button, or as headfi peeps have coined it 'the magic button' [​IMG]. There seems to be a bit of confusion over what this button actually does.
    There are 5 modes, 16bit 44.1kHz > 24bit 88.2kHz > 24bit 96kHz > 24bit 176.4kHz > 24bit 192kHz. A push of the SRC button cycles through the above, and each press does change the sound quality (regardless of file type being played).
    I don't quite understand what it's trying to do. I am playing 320kbps MP3 files and the AP100 will tell me that the file is 16bit 44.1kHz. But I can indeed set the SRC mode to anything I like, I'm sure it's impossible to upscale the file to 24bit 192kHz, so what is it actually doing? All I know is that toggling (even on a 16bit 44.1kHz file) will change the sound, I actually leave mine sitting on 24bit 96kHz most of the time.

    I posted in headfi what this feature of the player actually does, and this is the only half decent response I got;

    "From a french forum

    -24/88.2 : plus dynamique, medium légèrement en retrait
    -24/96 : scène moins large, medium plus en avant, aigus moins prononcés
    -24/176.4 : scène étendue, medium en retrait
    -24/192 : scène plus large, moins précis mais très dynamique

    Trying to translate :

    24/88.2: More dynamic, slightly set back medium
    24/96: less wide scene, medium more forward, less pronounced treble
    24/176.4: scene area, set back medium
    24/192: wider scene, less precise but very dynamic"


    So yeh... there you go :|

    Certainly there are lots more things to do and test with this gizmo, who knows... perhaps I will even throw a DSD file in there and see how it sounds...


    [​IMG]

    Summary

    I am really enjoying the AP100. I can't emphasize how great the EQ button is, nor can I believe in a world of 'Audiophiles' that it has taken 'till 2015 to see a DAP with (what I would call) a bloody obvious feature. I kid you not when I say that I was looking for something like this a good 5+yrs ago...

    My audio journey seems to be getting more and more expensive, but at the same time I am under the impression the sound quality is getting better (or at least it is appearing 'cleaner'). My only main gripe is the weight of my DAP choices keep increasing, from the feather like weight 40g that is the Cowon i9+ to the Alien Shozy at 80g, to the AP100 at 156g! If I keep this up my next DAP will weigh 300g!

    Sadly the AP300 is in the works, and so far it looks touchscreen based (which I consider to be a con) with an emphasis of form over function, and seems to be another brick to ferry around.

    My perfect DAP is something that has this sound capability, a dedicated EQ button, supports all Lyric formats, can rate songs and weighs a good 50g tops.

    Well... one can dream can't they?

    Pros
    -Leather Case included, high quality, if sold separately I would imagine a price tag of $30-50USD attached to it! It's worth considering if cases are your thing.
    -Sounds Quality excellent, good EQ implementation
    -Dedicated EQ button
    -Tactile buttons only, great for blind operation
    -Unlikely to need amped
    -Can be used as a DAC also
    -Favorites and Custom Playlists possible OTG
    -Line Out
    -M3U support

    Cons
    -Weight (heavy)
    -Price (expensive)
    -Screen quality is average
    -NPS is a little boring, lack of customization here. No large album art display etc
    -No support for Tagged/unsynced Lyrics, only LRC files
    -Not able to delete all songs stored in Favorites easily, have to do one by one.
    -No real Song Rating feature, have to use Favorites and Playlist workarounds.
    -Not able to mass add files/albums to playlists.
    -Battery life, 10hrs max

    I'm going to finish off this review with a short video detailing the menu, navigating it, and all the other settings etc to help give interested parties more info;

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lig_3zhwg5Q
      fnkcow, mgunin and Light - Man like this.
    1. ozkan
      Meizu M1 Note has better sound quality eventhough it is a phone.
      ozkan, Sep 26, 2015
    2. ozkan
      Great pictures and review btw:wink: Thank you.
      ozkan, Sep 26, 2015
    3. BruceBanner
      Thank you ozkan.
      I don't doubt what you say about the Meizu M1. I try to stay away from sound quality arguments because for me they are so subjective.
      My experience of Android (and on phones) is that they can indeed sound great, but they always lacked the necessary volume to reach levels I required. I would have to root the phone, change the 'mixer_path' file values and lift off the limits that the developer/brand decided to impose upon us.
      FWIW I tried the Hum Pervasion also, although it reached the required necessary volume I find apps like Poweramp a bit 'uninspiring'. YMMV.
      I tried to focus on the feature aspect of the DAP, I'm sure the Meizu M1 doesn't have a dedicated EQ Button :)
      BruceBanner, Sep 26, 2015
  3. YoYo JoKeR
    Hidizs AP100: New kid on the block!
    Written by YoYo JoKeR
    Published Dec 19, 2014
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Sound Quality, Value.
    Cons - Reliability, Firmware.
    I am penning down my opinion about the Hidizs AP100 Digital Audio Player. I will try to keep this review simple as possible and I hope it would be easy to read, and will help fellow enthusiasts to know more about the AP100.
     
    DSC01575.jpg

    Me: I am an 21 year old Engineering student living in a small town in India. I would like to call myself a music enthusiast, rather than an audiophile.
    I was inspired by music since childhood, and as the time passed, the passion of music grew in me, and that subsequently led me to join Head-Fi. Eventually, I found the pleasure of listening to music mainly by the HD600 headphones, and realized the true components of recorded music. I usually like to listen to Indian Classical Music along with Bollywood songs.
     
     
    Intro:  Hidizs, (pronounced Hi-di-z’s) [thats quite a unique name there] established in 2009, somehow not an renown brand in the audiophile world, but Hidizs released their first product in 2014, the AP100, which grabbed everyone’s attention. Hidizs made a bold entry into audiophile world by introducing an DAP as its first product, which is an quite a task. The AP100 is the only product offering from the house of Hidizs. AP100 is aimed to function as a fully portable High fidelity digital audio player.

    Specifications of AP100 as per Hidizs:
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    Packaging and Accessories: The AP100 arrives packed inside a matt black cardboard box, on which features, accessories and other information have been mentioned upon. The brown pleather case for AP100 is included in an separate box, cardboard boxes are quite sturdy, and can withstand the long journey during shipping times. 
     
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    List of accessories in the box, which include the following:
     
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    3.5mm interconnect : A short cable with 90 degree 3.5mm jacks, To connect to an portable amplifier.
     
    coaxial cable : This is for connecting to the AP100's coax terminals. One end is 3.5mm (AP100 coax terminal) and other end is RCA (full size coax terminal)
     
    USB cable : Sufficiently long, can be used for both data transfer and charging.
     
    Screen guard : An spare screen guard for applying on AP100's screen. Also includes an cloth for cleaning the screen.
     
    User Manual : Contains all information about operating the AP100.
     
    Warranty card : Contains warranty information. English language included.
     
    Pleather case : This case is supplied  to protect the AP100 player from falls or scratches, and also gives an premium touch to the AP100.
     
    Packaging could have been done better in an more efficient way. But anyways, packaging was decently secure and practical, with accessories provided being sufficient and made up of good quality.
     
     
    Design and Build: The AP100 has a fairly good build quality. The main body is made up of metal and most buttons are made up of fibre. AP100 is ergonomically designed and has an rectangular shape with curved edges, just as most of the other DAP’s. AP100 Is fairly light in weight, and can be comfortably operated using one hand itself.
     
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    On the Top side, the AP100 has headphone out and a line out, both as 3.5mm format. These feel good quality and hold on the jacks quite well. An power button is also present on the right corner. One has to hold power button for 3 seconds to turn on/off the device. 
     
    On the left side, SRC and Equalizer buttons are present. The function of equalizer button is to change or colour the output sound as desired. There are a few preset equalizers included in the firmware by default (like jazz, pop, rock etc), along with these presets, one can also manually set the desired custom equalization setting in the menu. The AP100 is hardware EQ’ing capable, which is quite an appreciable feature. So, according to my understanding, all the custom set equalization settings are hardware accelerated by the Cirrus Logic CS48L10 chipset. I do not realize the exact function of SRC button, but what it does is, increase the soundstage width and depth, along with bass bloat. With SRC at 24/192, the bass seems very much bloated, and soundstage feels artificially extended. So I feel, the SRC setting is best turned off, to extract an accurate sound output. 
     
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    On the right side, lock button is present, whose function is to lock down all the keys once lock button is activated. This same button broke off by its own within the first month of its use, leaving me disappointed and hence Indicating, a better designing is required from Hidizs. 
     
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    On The front side, Volume keys, forward, backward, next, previous, select and back keys are present. Two volume keys, one for increasing the volume and another for decreasing are present. Forward/backward, Next/previous keys are present in a typical Ipod-style. These buttons are somewhat stiff and they wobble, causing inaccuracy in navigation. Some buttons are harder and some buttons are looser, so one might have to press harder. I feel Hidizs should rectify this issue at their earliest. The back key, as usual provides an back function in the firmware. when pressed for more than 3 seconds, it pops up an command to delete the file. The display screen size is 2.4 inch diagonally, and display, I feel is good enough for an DAP. Resolution, brightness are decent enough for viewing.
     
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    On the bottom side, a micro USB port, Micro SD card slot coaxial input and output terminals are present. Though I could never use the coaxial terminals, so I cannot comment on their performance. Charging and USB connection use the same microUSB port.
     
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    The paint quality (black) on AP100 is quite mediocre, as it tends to rub off and imprint on other devices. Included case looks like a leather case, but actually its made up of pleather material, and the case itself is not fitting well enough with the AP100. This fault is due to careless in designing and cutting process. An simple silicon cover would have been much more economical and practical than the current pleather case.
     
     
    Battery life: Battery life is okay-ish, and battery indicator miscalculates the actual amount of battery power remaining. As for me, the battery lasts for about 5 hours, even on lowest brightness and other settings. I feel the playback time should increase atleast upto 8 hours on a full charge. The battery capacity of AP100 is of 3000mAH. Even though it is a good capacity battery, Playback time is modest. The battery has to be charged by an 5V 2A adapter, and is not included in the package. Charging time using this adapter is around 3 hours. 

     
    User Interface: The current firmware version is 067, and is upgradeable. Audio formats supported are WAV FLAC MP3 OGG AAC APE ALAC. Gapless playing is not supported. Currently the UI supports only simple ‘File Browsing’ type navigation foe song playback. A browser with atleast album playback was expected, but nevertheless it can be added in future firmware updates. The current UI is reasonably fast, and its features are limited as of now. The current 067 UI is just moderately reliable, as it tends to shut down anytime at random, without warning. Many might not know, If your AP100 hangs off or gets struck, press and hold both power key and back key together for 10 seconds, and AP100 will turn off. No need for using a pin to reset. Currently I feel, AP100 may need better quality management and a better user interface to achieve a good reliability. Buttons and firmware are the mostly noticed unreliable features on AP100. 
     
     
    Sound: The AP100 is overall neutral and clean sounding with good sound stage depth and decent width, imaging and detail retrieval. Considering the AP100’s neutral sound quality, It can match up with any genre and any headphone without sounding bad in particular. Sound-stage width and depth are very good especially for an DAP in this price range. Imaging and dynamics live upto expectations, giving an circular spacious surround sound. Neutral and balanced sonic performance.
     
    I did not quite like the hardware equalizer on the AP100; as it sounded somewhat compressed and narrow. So I have always set the player in general mode. SRC function too did not impress me, as it made the music seems to come from very far away and Bass was very much bloated. Hence the SRC option too was turned off. I listen to AP100 without using any of the coloration or enhancements like SRC or EQ.
     
    Power output is pretty good and is sufficient to drive any and all IEM’s and also drive most of the headphones to loud listening levels, I always listen to volumes below 30 on IEM’s and below 50 on headphones. Noise floor of the AP100 is not dead silent. It has slight audible hiss, which can be heard by sensitive IEM’s. The AP100 employs a relay, so EMI pickup is completely nil, along with no pop sounds on startup or shutdown, which is really appreciable.
     
    Comparing the AP100 with FiiO X3, I feel the AP100 definitely outperforms the X3 in terms of sound quality. X3 is warmer and slightly on darker side, whereas AP100 is neutral and balanced. Though the X3 is way better in terms of reliability and build quality, compared to the AP100. 
     
     
    Conclusion: Hidizs AP100 does its job and does it very well. It offers very good neutral sound quality along with good portability and decent features, in an decent price range. With Minor improvements from Hidizs team, this DAP can be amazing. Though Hidizs is a relatively new brand in the audiophile world, the AP100 is quite a good DAP, considering it is their first release. I hope and believe they would improvise their upcoming DAP's to meet our expectations.
     
     
    The Pros: 
     
    1) Neutral sound quality: Sound quality of AP100 is mostly uncoloured and neutral. This is definitely an advantage. I always have felt that a source (base of the sound chain) should be neutral and transparent. Any desired colouration required should be chosen later on, higher on the sound chain (like headphones or amplifiers)
     
    2) Value: The overall performance of AP100 is good, especially considering its price, and also the fact that there are limited DAP’s available in sub 500$ range.
     
    The Cons: 
     
    1) General Reliability: The AP100 is not quite as reliable as it should be, owing to firmware, battery and build issues of the AP100.
     
    2) Firmware Issues: The current firmware version has limited features and reliability. However, these issues can be solved, when the firmware will be updated by Hidizs, in near future.
     
    3) Moderate Build Quality: Although overall quality of AP100 is fairly good, but in areas like buttons and body paint, the quality and functioning is not upto expectations. 
      getclikinagas and Light - Man like this.
  4. thatonenoob
    Hidizs AP100
    Written by thatonenoob
    Published Dec 1, 2014
    3.5/5,
    HIDIZS' AP100

    _D704037.jpg
     
    INTRODUCTION

    Hidizs was founded in 2009 after a lengthy investigation of the audiophile DAP market.  Thus far, it has produced only a single offering: the AP100.  Entering into an increasingly saturated market occupied by bigger name players like Fiio, iBasso, HiFiMan, and at the higher end, Astell & Kern, Hidizs faces what can only be described as extremely steep competition.  In many ways, the AP100 not only needed to match existing competitors like the DX50/90 and X3/5 in terms of performance, but also surpass them in order to ensure its relevance in the audio world.
     
    Before I go any further, I’d like to thank Louis at Hidizs for helping to coordinate the logistics of this review.  As always, I am neither an affiliate nor an employee of Hidizs, and all photos are owned by me.  Because I did not receive the original packaging for the AP100, I was unable to complete the packaging/ included items section that I commonly include in reviews. 
     
    BUILD/DESIGN QUALITY

    1057148766.jpg
     
    Let’s start by taking a look at the overall build of the DAP.  The Hidizs AP100 has a nice brushed metal finish, though the overall weight of the AP100 is still relatively light.  This leads me to believe that its frame is constructed out of plastic.  The screen is a 320 x 240 TFT display.  This is pretty low-resolution, and users can expect to see pixilation.  While some may not care much for the display, I personally quite enjoy being able to look at my album artwork.  Naturally, the 320 x 240 display was a slight disappointment.  
     
    _D704051.jpg   _D704062.jpg
     
    On the left side of the player is the button that changes EQ and SRC control.   On the right is a switch that locks the DAP’s functionality.  To the top are the line out and headphone jacks, as well as the sleep button, and on the bottom are the Micro USB, Micro SD, coax in, and coax out ports.  The controls are laid out in a fairly intuitive manner, though it does have a bit of a “legacy” look to it.  If there is one thing I’d change, it would be to toss the fast forward/ rewind buttons, and instead merge these controls with the next track/ previous track buttons (like old Apple iPods). Having said that, it is still fairly easy to maneuver the AP100 interface with a single hand. 
     
    _D704066.jpg   _D704067.jpg
     
    In addition to a solid build, the internals of the AP100 are fairly impressive as well.  Good hardware and a decent processor (okay, decent for DAPs) mean that the AP100 should perform fairly well in actual testing.
     
    The user interface is pretty barebones.  It works well, and in some ways I am quite happy that fancy features weren’t just thrown onto the AP100 for no good reason.  However, with return of my DX50 (which I have just re-bought following my first DX50's dramatic death) I found the AP100 to be pretty lackluster,  especially when you have to actually press buttons to go through music.  That said, those who like legacy controls will be at home with the Hidizs DAP.   Turning the AP100 on, the user is confronted with two choices: red pill or blue pill.  Just kidding.   You can either go to the settings menu or the playback interface.  Nothing particularly ground breaking with either.  Now that firmware updates seems to have fixed most of the AP100’s software related problems, I found that it wasn’t half bad UI-wise.  However, you will notice more than a few quirks with the AP100, including a battery indicator that refuses to update a times, an odd mechanical noise going off in-between songs, and the unique customization features available (your choice of green or blue text). 
     
    _D704079.jpg   _D704087.jpg
     
    Overall, the AP100 has a good build.  While it certainly isn’t an elegant device by any means, it’s definitely a solidly constructed piece of equipment with a logical design behind it.  The AP100 certainly matches other Chinese DAPs in terms of build quality, and in some ways even surpasses them (X3 I’m looking at you).  
     
    SOUND QUALITY

    The AP100 does exactly what one should expect from an MP3 player.  Relatively uncolored, neutral sounding playback.  Soundstage and imaging are no problem for the AP100 either.  While I do have a soft spot for “flavored” pieces of audio equipment, the source, in my opinion, needs to be pure.  It should not be a place for experimentation or uniqueness.  Instead, it should be a solid launching pad for SQ customization through headphones, amps, and the like.  The AP100 delivers in this regard, and solidly at that.  
     
    FINAL THOUGHTS

    Hidizs has certainly produced a compelling piece of audio equipment.  While it may not seem like a “Dream Lover” to start, the AP100’s robustness and generally reliability (with new firmware) make it a good choice for those looking for a “legacy” DAP.   
  5. fonzler
    Does what it claims to do: a great job of playing music
    Written by fonzler
    Published Nov 17, 2014
    3.5/5,
    Pros - Support for most file formats and high-res audio, Clean and detailed sound, Drives sensitive IEMs and higher impedance cans, Decent looks
    Cons - Dreadful interface and song navigation, Battery life may be short for some
    The AP100 DAP (Digital Audio Player) is the initial offering from Chinese new-kid-on-the-block, Hidizs (which I have no idea how to pronounce), officially released at CES in January of this year.
    It claims to be a ‘high fidelity audio player’ which are big words at the modest price of around USD300 . Let’s see if it lives up to Hidizs’ lofty ambitions.

     
    I would like to thank Musica Acoustics for lending me this particular unit for review. You can find more information and purchase if from their website.
    Tech specs and more information on the AP100 can be found on Hidizs’ website.

     

    Package and Contents

     
    [​IMG]
     
    The AP100 comes nested in a series of stylish but understated cardboard boxes. There is no foam padding inside, but it seems sufficient to protect the player and other contents during transit.
     
    [​IMG]
     
    Hidizs really went all out with the included accessories, which I was pleasantly surprised to see. In addition to the multilingual manual, quick start guide and warranty card, you will receive:
     
    1. A screen protector
    2. A cleaning cloth
    3. A 3.5mm interconnect cable
    4. A  stereo 3.5mm to RCA cable (for use with the player’s coaxial input/output)

     
    Basic earbuds are conspicuously excluded. I suppose Hidizs figured that they would likely be a meaningless inclusion for their target audience.
     
    [​IMG]     [​IMG]
     
    My AP100 also came with a brown pleather case with a magnetic latch, which admittedly does feel a little cheap, but does not really intrude on day to day use and provides some degree of protection for the player.
     

    Design and Functionality

     
    With the exception of the screen and plastic accents around the front control pad, the AP100′s body is constructed of a well machined and finished aluminium, giving it a very nice premium feel. It weighs in at 156g (according to the manufacturer), which is by no means heavy, but enough to make the player feel solid. Dimensions are 107 x 65.5 x 16.2mm, making it of greater girth than most other commercial DAPs, but it’s still small enough to comfortably fit inside most pockets. Carrying just the AP100 around was much more pleasant and manageable than my typical DAP + Amp setup (see photos below).

     
    [​IMG]    [​IMG]
     
    Hidizs quotes the AP100′s battery as providing 10 hours of playback time. However, I feel that this is an absolute best case scenario. Typically listening at less than one quarter of the volume, I got about 8.5 hours out of a single full charge. I suppose this is about what you would expect given all the hardware they’ve put in there.
     
    It really is amazing to see how much functionality Hidizs were able to jam into this player. It plays most audio formats (WAV, FLAC, WMA, OFF, AAC, APE and ALAC at bit depth/sample rate of up to 24 bit/192KHz), offers native line out and also has coaxial input/output, allowing you to send digital output to an external decoder or have the player receive digital input. There is 8GB of internal memory (approximately 7GB is actually available for storage) and support for up to 64GB MicroSDHC cards.
     
    [​IMG]
     
    The front panel features navigation/playback buttons, volume up and down buttons and the 2.4″ 320 x 240 resolution TFT screen (of decidedly meh quality).
     
    [​IMG]
     
    Up top, we have 3.5mm headphone out, line out and power/blank screen button.
     
    [​IMG]
     
    Down the bottom, you have 3.5mm coaxial in and out , MicroSD card slot and the USB charging/data transfer port. Unfortunately, the AP100 cannot be used as a USB DAC.
     
    [​IMG]
     
    The left side features buttons to cycle between bit depth/sample rate presets and sound EQ presets (which I found a little useless).
     
    [​IMG]
     
    The right side has a lock switch, which disables all other button presses when turned on.
     

    Interface and Ease of Use

     
    [​IMG]
     
    The AP100′s UI might be described as ‘bare bones’. While I dislike the trend of many manufacturers providing silly and unnecessary features with their players like games and voice recorders, Hidizs appears to have taken the exact opposite approach and cut down the AP100′s software to be as simple as possible. Options are limited, however, navigation is quick and simple and responsive, with no lag or freezes as with my Sony F-series Walkman, using a far more complicated Android OS. I also never experienced any skips or stutters during playback as was occasionally the case with the Walkman.
     
    My qualms with the AP100 really start when it comes to track browsing/navigation and playback display. The player makes no attempt to sort your library (e.g by artist, album, genre etc), relying on you to sort all your tracks appropriately through folder structure (track navigation is essentially done through a glorified file browser). Additionally, the browser does not read the tags of your files: it only displays the file name. I typically use a program like CDex to rip my CDs to FLAC, leave the default file name (usually something like 01- Audio Track 01.flac) and add the tag data and cover art. On the AP100, that left me with my albums looking like this:
     
    [​IMG]
     
    The “now playing” view also appears to be very picky with your files’ tags. For most of my files, it will show me the cover art, file name and sample depth/rate of the file as below.
     
    [​IMG]
     
    Nowhere – and I mean absolutely nowhere – can I check the song title, even in the song properties screen, which to me is just beyond silly.
     
    [​IMG]
     
    The player does actually display metadata for some songs (I’m not exactly sure why – perhaps it was the way they were tagged?) but in this case there is no way for you to view the cover art. You just can’t win with this thing…
     
    The moral of the story is: if you’re going to buy this player, you should be very meticulous in naming the files in your music library.
     
    There is also no way to create or edit playlists on the player, however, you can create a list of favourite songs, which I suppose is a bit similar.
     
    The circular pad of playback buttons on the front of the AP100 double as your D-pad for navigating around the menus. They will only perform their marked function (e.g. play/pause, next track, fast forward etc) when in the “now playing” view. This means that they can’t be used to quickly perform track changes or pause playback etc. (unless of course you always make sure to leave it in “now playing” view) which could prove to be an annoyance to some.
     
    I should note that the player does get a little warm during extended use, but never uncomfortably so.
     

    Sound

    I’m happy to say that the AP100 did deliver in the sound department – where it really matters.

     
    Its overall sound is very ‘hi-fi’ – that is to say detailed, transparent and uncoloured. There is no particular emphasis on any frequency range: it all sounds very neutral and balanced. If you want sound that is in any way coloured or ‘augmented’, leave that to your amp or earphones.
    Compared to my usual Sony NW-F806 + Tralucent T1 combo, the AP100 (using the 3.5mm headphone output) was able to deliver a more detailed sound with a noticeably wider and better separated soundstage. Colour me impressed!

     
    In addition, the internal amplifier seems to have no problem driving sensitive IEMs like the Ortofon e-Q8s or Unique Melody Miracles and was also able to provide enough juice to drive my AKG K701s to decent volumes at less than half of the maximum setting. I would say that an amp is definitely not necessary to enjoy this DAP.
     

    Closing Comments

     
    When you consider that the AP100:
     
    1. Delivers a clear, reference-style sound
    2. Plays most file formats with support for high-res audio
    3. Can drive both very sensitive and demanding earphones/headphones  and
    4. Look decent

     
    all while costing less than half than players like the Walkman ZX1 or AK100, this DAP is an amazing achievement for Hidizs, especially given that this is their very first offering to the market.
     
    However, for that price, the sacrifices do have to come from somewhere. In the AP100′s case it is the interface and overall user experience, especially when dealing with song metadata.I imagine that if you were very diligent in naming all your music files correctly, you could mitigate this to the point where it is practical, but frankly I am too lazy to go through all that effort :)
    :)
    The AP100 was designed to do one thing and one thing only: play music, of which it does an amazing job. As long as you aren’t expecting it to do any more than that, it won’t let you down.
    1. yalper
      It is hard for me to put that much money on a product from "unknown" company, it is even unknown how to pronounce for us...
       
      It looks pretty, front controls look promising but it is too expensive for me to try...
      yalper, Nov 17, 2014
    2. Jeff Y
      This player is a lot more cheaper in Asia...
      Jeff Y, Nov 17, 2014