cqtek

500+ Head-Fier
A Real High Resolution DAP
Pros: Sound quality.
- Analytical/brilliant tendency profile.
- Very compact size.
- Operating system, handling and level of connectivity.
- Extra functions (pedometer and e-book reader).
- Decodes MQA 8x.
- Remarkable power level.
Cons: There is no case.
- The audio connectors don't seem very robust.
- Its small size means a small battery. This results in a short battery life.
- It does not comply with the latest version of Bluetooth.
- FM radio is no longer included.
Introduction

Hidizs continues to increase its catalogue with high quality. And a clear example of this is the product I now present. This is the DAP AP80 PRO-X, the next version of the famous AP80 PRO. This time, the X version uses a Sabre ESS9219C DUAL DAC, instead of the ESS9218P. It also supports hardware capable of 8x MQA decoding and has lost the FM radio chip along the way - a pity, by the way, because I'm a big fan of listening to football on the radio. It still uses two-way Bluetooth v4.2, supports HiBy UAT, Sony LDAC and CSR APT-X. Of course, it can also be used as a DAC/AMP connected to a smartphone or PC. Among other functions, it can be used as a step counter, to read e-books, as well as a wireless player (HRAW), supporting resolutions up to 24-bit/96kHz. As for the music files it can handle, it natively plays DSD64/128/256 and PCM 384kHz 32bit. Clearly there's more to this little DAP, but I'll talk about it all below.

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Specifications

  • DAC: Dual ESS9219C
  • 2.5mm BAL and 3.5mm SE audio outputs.
  • SE output power: 70mW 32Ω.
  • BAL output power: 190mW 32Ω.
  • Frequency response (±3dB): 20Hz-90kHz.
  • THD+N SE: 0.0015
  • SE dynamic range: 115dB
  • Signal-to-noise ratio SE: 119dB
  • SE channel spacing: 110dB
  • THD+N BAL: 0.0015
  • Dynamic Range BAL: 116dB
  • BAL signal-to-noise ratio: 120dB
  • BAL channel separation: 117dB
  • Recommended headphone impedance range: 8Ω-200Ω.
  • Display: Samsung 2.45" IPS HD touchscreen (480x360)
  • Battery: 800mAh 3.7V Li-Polymer.
  • Battery life: BAL: 6-8 hours, SE: 8-11 hours, 40 days standby.
  • Battery charging time: 1 hour.
  • Japanese ALPS volume control.
  • CPU: Ingenic x 1000
  • DSD: FPGA HBC3000 hardware decodes DSD64/128/256 natively.
  • USB Type-C connector.
  • Operating system: HiBy OS.
  • MQA 8X hardware decoding.
  • Bi-directional Bluetooth v4.2
  • Sony LDAC
  • CSR APT-X
  • Hi-Res Audio and Hi-Res Audio Wireless certified.
  • Two-way USB DAC.
  • Supports MAC OSx10.7, iPad OS, Windows XP, Windows 7/8/10 or newer.
  • E-Book support
  • Step counter support.
  • Dimensions: 61.2x54.5x13.8mm
  • Weight: about 72g.
  • CNC machined aluminium alloy.
  • Available in black, blue and grey.

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Packaging

The small DAP AP80 PRO-X comes in a compact box, whose dimensions are 128x97x47mm. It is dark in colour. On its main side you can see a picture of the DAP in its centre, while in the upper left corner you can read the name of the product and a short description. In the upper right corner are the logos of the supported audio specifications. The ink used is holographic type, with a tendency to copper colour. In the bottom left corner is the brand logo, in gold. The back face is filled with the specifications, in 4 languages, plus the branding and other supported construction certifications. After lifting the cover you can see a dark cardboard, in the centre of which is written a quote from the brand. In the lower right-hand corner is the logo again, all in silver ink. The DAP is encased in dense black foam, inside a protective white pouch. A cloth strap allows it to be removed from its socket, as well as removing this entire layer. Underneath it is another level covered by another black cardboard, under which are the rest of the accessories. They are the following:

  • 1 AP80 PRO-X.
  • 1 Type-C cable.
  • 1 Type-C to Type-C OTG cable.
  • 1 warranty card.
  • 1 user manual.
  • 2 screen protectors.

After removing the DAP from the white pouch you can see how a screen protector protects the main panel. The rear panel is also protected. Paper sheets will allow you to remove the cover over the screen protectors.
The content is simply correct. There is no protective cover, it can be purchased separately. The USB cables are quite simple. That there are a couple of additional screen protectors is a detail. But neither can you say that this is a premium level of content and number of accessories.

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Construction and Design

When you see the written size, it can always be difficult to get an idea of the real dimensions. At least, it's hard for me. That's why when I saw the AP80 PRO-X I was surprised by its small size. I was expecting a similar size to other DAPs in the range I own. But, really, I find it almost tiny. That limits the screen to be bigger. My eyesight is not what it used to be and the lettering, in its large font (you can choose between 3 sizes), is at the limit of my visibility. I'm getting older…
The DAP is made of CNC machined aluminium alloy. Both the main screen and the back of the display appear to be made of toughened glass. The top edge is flat, the left edge is bevelled and houses the micro-SD card slot. The bottom edge is also flat and houses the balanced 2.5mm audio connections, the USB Type-C female connection and the 3.5mm SE connector. I would have preferred a balanced 4.4mm connection. On the other hand, the connectors look rather plain, they are black and don't seem to have put much emphasis on improving the edge quality of the audio ports. The right edge is the one with the most complex design. At the top is the small ALPS potentiometer, with a red rim. The face is bevelled like the left side, but there is an X with a horizontal bar that starts from the centre of the volume wheel. Below that control are 3 small buttons: forward, play/pause and rewind.
On the back face is the brand logo at the top, while on the bottom is the model name and some logos of the features it supports. At the bottom of this side is a pattern formed by small four-pointed stars.
The rest of the external and internal data, as well as the chips used, is commented in the specifications, so I don't see the need to repeat these parameters.
As I said, the DAP is very small. The display is of good quality and visibility. The feel in the hand is dense, which gives a perception of quality and durable construction, although a standard case is missing. On the downside, I would again point out that the audio connectors don't seem the most durable I've seen. I think Hidizs would do well to look at the 4.4mm connector on their DH80S.

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Connectivity

The AP80 PRO-X has two audio outputs: 2.5mm BAL and 3.5mm SE. It also has a USB Type-C female input. It supports MAC OSx10.7, iPad OS, Windows XP, Windows 7/8/10 or newer systems. Can be connected to a smartphone to be used as a DAC/AMP. Also to a PC as a two-way DAC. Features two-way Bluetooth v4.2 and Hi-Res Audio Wireless (HRAW). It supports several Bluetooth protocols, including Sony LDAC, AAC, SBC, HiBy UAT and CSR APT-X.
As you can see, the level of connectivity is very high. One could only complain that it does not use the latest Bluetooth specification.

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Operativity

The operating system of the AP80 PRO-X is the HiBy OS, which I love and is one of the most complete DAP systems I know. Personally, as I have a preference for pure, non-Android based DAPs, I think it is one of the most complete OS's I have tried.
The firmware version used for this review is v1.0.
As soon as the player is turned on, a screen with 4 icons (Player, Step, Bluetooth and Book) is displayed. Swiping to the left brings up a new screen with two more icons (System Settings and About).
From System Settings, the content is as follows (Language, Music Database, Brightness, Backlight time, Colour theme, Font size, USB mode, Button operation, Time setting, Idle timer, sleep timer, Standby, In-line remote, Recording steps, Lock volume knob, Screensaver setting, restore factory settings, Firmware update).
If you click on the Player icon, you will see a screen with 4 icons at the top (Hidizs logo, music note, heart, playback screen). Clicking on the centre icon will start the update of the music database.
By clicking on the Hidizs Logo, you access a side menu that allows the update of the music database, MSEB, Equaliser, Play Settings and Exit.
It is known that the MSEB is a different EQ, which allows you to change sound properties (Temperature, Bass Extension, Bass texture, Note thickness, Vocals, Female overtones, Sibilance LF, Sibilance HF, Impulse response, Air). I'm not a fan of using this kind of filters, but I must admit that for those who like to play with this kind of things, the possibilities are enormous. Even more, if you activate the 10-band EQ, with 8 presets and the possibility of modifying each band to your personal taste.
Clicking on the music note takes you to the music library, via the Folder, Albums, Artist, Genres and Format icons.
Press the heart icon to access My Favorites, Recents and Playlist (Create new playlist, Save playlist, Load playlist).
Finally, and from the playback screen, if you drag your finger upwards, you can access a menu that allows you to deactivate/activate Bluetooth, choose the gain, USB mode, activate line output, screen brightness control bar, playback buttons (rewind, play/pause, forward), volume control bar.
On the playback screen, the playback controls, playback mode and quick access to other functions (List now playing, Add to playlist, Equalizer, View album, Properties, Delete) are shown below.
Swiping to the left takes you to the main playback menu.
It is worth noting that the volume is reported at the top left, the time at the top centre and the battery control at the top right.
The AP80 PRO-X has three physical buttons (forward, play/pause, rewind) and a volume wheel, which is also a button to turn the device off/on, as well as activating the display. Each step/click of the volume wheel corresponds to a jump of 1 point on the volume scale, all the way up to 100.
As you can see, the number of controls is very large and I think the system does not miss any option.
As the only drawback, as the screen is small, even with the large font you have to have a good view.
On the other hand, the screen sometimes feels a bit sluggish, I would say it has a good level of sensitivity, but on rare occasions it doesn't seem to respond on the first try. This is nothing to worry about and can be attributed to the fact that it is more sensitive to the fingertips than to other parts of the screen.

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Measures

Hidizs is usually exemplary in its measurements. And the AP80 PRO-X is exemplary for both outputs, assuming what the specifications claim.
Another neat thing is that the output impedance is ultra-low, there is no voltage drop when a load is connected to the SE or BAL audio output. Perfect.

No load SE

At low gain the maximum no-load voltage is 1V and 2V at high gain. Well, it actually goes up to 2.1V.

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15 Ω SE

The maximum voltage without visible distortion reached is 1.44V, which is 140mW and a current of 96mA, surpassing the mythical 90mA barrier. Superb.

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33 Ω SE

The maximum voltage without visible distortion achieved is 1.65V, which is 83mW and a current of 50mA. This is more than the specified 70mW at 32 Ω.

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100 Ω SE

The maximum voltage without visible distortion reached is 2.12V, which is 45mW and a current of 21mA. It is shown that the output impedance tends to zero, because the voltage with no load or at 100 Ω is the same.

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No load BAL

At low gain the maximum no-load voltage is 2V and 4.11V at high gain.

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15 Ω BAL

Of course, the output voltage for this impedance is the same as for SE, no more than 96mA can be delivered, a figure which, I insist again, is very high for such a small DAP. If we stick to the measurement, on this occasion 1.42V and almost 95mA are reached, being the power 130mW.

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33 Ω BAL

According to the specifications, for 32Ω, the power per balanced output is 190mW. That means a voltage of 2.47V and 77mA. I forced a similar voltage for the real 33Ω resistor and arrived at an almost identical value, even higher at some frequencies. A slight distortion can be observed at low frequencies, while for high frequencies it disappears and it is possible to get more power, above 2.5V. This voltage is the one needed to deliver 190mW at 33Ω and you can see that the AP80 PRO-X is at that point. Excellent.

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100 Ω BAL

I thought that for this impedance, the little AP80 PRO-X could provide its full output voltage. But it falls a little short, 3.7V. That means 140mW and a current of 37mA. Pretty good.

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Frequency Response

It can be seen that the frequency range reaches up to 80kHz and that there is no crosstalk. Furthermore, the response is completely flat between 20Hz and 20kHz.

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Sound

To describe the sound I used the DAP in pure mode, without activating MSEB or EQ.
As I would expect from a sound coming from a DUAL DAC ESS, the Hidizs AP80 PRO-X has a very clean profile, eminently neutral and clear, although with a slight tendency towards the analytical side, very well defined, high resolution and neatness. It is true that the use of a full SoC (System on Chip) gives little room for modification of its intrinsic sound, something that can detract from the personality of the DAP itself and the final implementation of the product. For me, it is clear that the choice of a DAP must be based on the DAC used and the particular touch that each brand gives it. The use of a SoC limits that particular implementation part, giving more prominence to the DAC and its factory setting. In this sense, I have nothing against it, because the sound produced is totally to my liking.
It is worth noting that in my measurements, both outputs are very powerful for 16Ω headphones, which is a big surprise. I would say that this is the smallest device with the highest current delivery for this impedance that I have tested. That is something that is noticeable, the power is ample for this output. But the balanced output has a plus in sound quality. The difference between SE and BAL can be noticed quite easily. The level of cleanliness, resolution, breadth, depth, separation and definition is superior with the balanced output. Bass is more textured, descriptive and deeper. The highs are more vivid and stand out with better dynamics, while the midrange gains in neutrality, resulting in a superior level of expression.
The SE bass is a bit dry, even unexciting. Switching to the BAL output improves the texture, but I would never say that this is a specialised bass DAP. Its development is neutral, as well as its representation has a good definition, with a clean, distinguishable and marked layering. Depth is a little limited and its end is perceived, which is good in terms of control, but also duller. The good level of resolution detracts from the analogue feel and a point of naturalness is lost. Thus, the LFOs feel more audible than perceptible, with a certain cool colour that detracts from a more powerful physical sensation, but adds a more marked and profiled sound, with a roughness that is also more noticeable, but less realistic.
The mid-range benefits from the great control and, due to the balanced output, the level of brightness is high. This enhances the detail and cleanness of the sound. It is true that the mids move away from a smooth representation, but they lose neither harmony nor musicality. The clear jump in resolution makes it possible to expose the nuances with greater rigour, obtaining a higher performance, as well as a higher approach to the purest music, although from a more analytical point of view. It seems that the AP80 PRO-X is able to offer a delicate and fine expressiveness of the smallest details, as well as to enhance vocals and instruments by means of a very accurate and delimited representation. There is no room for mixing, for continuity, for an analogue or more liquid feel. The mids are not fluid, but appear concrete and very concise, perfectly delimited and placed within the scene. This, to my mind, is highly enjoyable and the sense of great resolution you get is very rewarding. But you have to bear in mind that there are audiences who prefer a more natural, realistic or analogue feel. For my part, I have long been looking for a sound this clean and pure, effectively defined in the high end, crystalline, sparkling, expressive and crisp. It is true that it can be a little lean and lacks a thicker, more lifted, bodily feel, and the sound is less dense.
The sharp ones do the rest, they show themselves without fear, without fear of making a mistake, of getting it wrong. There is no need to hide them, no need to mask them. The level of resolution in this range reaches its peak and the representation of the high notes is extremely fast, precise and defined. The area is really crisp, vivid, full of sparkle and brilliance, but never feels forced or unnatural. That's the great virtue, to achieve a sound where the treble can be the star, but without losing naturalness or harmony. The upper range is the culmination of a rich, splashy and widely spaced sound.
It is clear that such a well-defined sound is underpinned by great separation. The stereo representation is stellar, the movement of the elements is very easy to perceive, which means that the dynamics are very high, as is the speed of execution and the level of precision. Nothing is blurred or unfinished. For better or worse, the AP80 PRO-X represents the sound in a very focused and unobscured way. Although such a drawing may not be the most respectful or natural, but it is quite accurate for the price range. So, with such an explicit and abundant sound, the soundstage needs to be large to accommodate so much information. Fortunately, it is, and the balanced output helps to widen the musical space and give it a breadth and height that impresses. The depth is perhaps not as remarkable, but the large amount of air gives a remarkable three-dimensional level, while maintaining a realistic and well-positioned feel. In this way the sound doesn't escape, it doesn't feel too vaporous or ethereal, but remains spacious, yet well defined, always focused, very well structured and positioned. The instrumental positioning is very good and the provenance and placement of the elements is also commendable.

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Comparisons

HiBy R3 Pro


I had high hopes for the sound of the R3 Pro when I bought it. It is true that it is a great component and the best DAP in its price range that I had tried so far. But from the very first moment, I knew that its sound was not what I was looking for. A few weeks after buying it, the Saber version came out and that's when I realised my mistake in buying the normal version. You could say that the Hidizs AP80 PRO-X uses the evolved SoC from the Saber version (2xESS9218P), the same one used in the previous Hidizs AP80 PRO model. Perhaps, the evolution is not so high between the two SoCs, but it is always a step forward, although I have not been able to check it.
In this case, the R3 Pro uses a Dual CS43131 DAC from Cirrus Logic. And that is something that changes the sound in an obvious way.
But first, it should be noted that the R3 Pro is a larger DAP, with a superior screen. I prefer the form factor of the HiBy and the battery life is superior as well. It is clear that size influences a smaller battery for the AP80 PRO-X. In power, though, the two are very similar. Also, I must comment that the audio connectors are better on the R3 Pro, but I must comment that its battery has broken before the two years. I had to send it to HiBy to have it replaced. Luckily, the process and the after-sales service was optimal... Paying, of course.
Turning to the sound, the presentation of the R3 Pro, comparatively speaking to the AP80 PRO-X, is arguably even warm. There is a greater predominance and corporeal feel of the low end. It has a greater impact on the sound and its physical appearance is more prominent. The texture is different in both DAPS, while the AP80 PRO-X presents it in a more defined way, the R3 Pro sounds more realistic, with a more visceral and punchy feel. This makes the mids less clean, as well as the treble. In the AP80 PRO-X, both the mids and the treble are completely free of this impact and are not impaired by the bass. Not that this is true of the R3 Pro, but it is the case that its sound is more fluid, somewhat denser and thicker, not as clear, clean or defined. The edges are rounder on the HiBy and the music is smoother, with a more analogue tendency, but also more muffled. If we talk about timbre, I would dare to say that neither of the two has the best timbre, because each is a prey to its own sonic tendency: one being more veiled and less extended on the one hand, and the other being more resolute and brilliant on the other. The best sound should unite the precision and delicacy of the AP80 PRO-X, along with a more organic and natural feel. The R3 has neither. The AP80 PRO-X has half as much, which for this price range is already a lot.
The more monotonous sound of the R3 Pro generates a more normal, good and more homogeneous three-axis sound stage. The greater physical sensation, higher density and less separation deliver a natural image with good depth. The AP80 PRO-X surpasses it in separation and three-dimensional recreation, offering a purer, more crystalline sound with sharper, more defined, precise, concise and analytical edges. This means more specific and concrete scene, better positioning and more accurate placement.
In terms of handling, both use the same HiBy operating system. But the Hidizs has some options that the R3 Pro does not, such as the step count function, ebook and MQA 8X hardware decoding. Meanwhile, the R3 Pro has a Bluetooth 5.0 specification.

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Conclusion

When I try a DAP or a DAC/AMP it is always a surprise for me. Even better than trying new headphones. I am looking for perfection and for that you have to start with the best sound. Perfection should be absolute and we should all have the same concept of it. As this is impossible, everyone equates his concept of perfection to an ideal. My ideal of sound is very close to what the Hidizs AP80 PRO-X offers and I think that for this price there is little or nothing that I have tried that gives me this satisfaction. But I haven't tried every source under $200, nor is my judgement absolute. But until that happens, the Hidizs AP80 PRO-X will occupy the number 1 spot among the DAPS/sources in this price range that I have been able to test.

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Earphones and Sources Used During Analysis

  • Hidizs MM2
  • Hidizs MS2
  • Yanyin Aladdin
  • Penon ORB
  • Penon Sphere
  • Penon PAC
  • NiceHCK M5
  • Letshuoer S12
  • Rose QT9 MK2
  • Dunu Falcon Pro
  • Rose Martini
  • TFZ Tequila Pro
  • Reecho SG-01 OVA
  • Earbuds Anonymous

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Ratings

  • Construction and Design: 80
  • Packaging and Accessories: 65
  • Connectivity: 90
  • Operability: 95
  • Sound: 95
  • Quality/Price: 95

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Hidizs offered me this model, in exchange for writing an honest review. I want to make it clear that all my opinions written in this review have not been conditioned by this fact, nor will I ever write anything that I do not really think or feel here. I will only write about my personal opinion in relation to the revised product.

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Purchase Link

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You can read the full review in Spanish here

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IryxBRO

500+ Head-Fier
HIDIZS AP80 PRO-X – new DACs, more functions and portability
Pros: MQA 8X, balanced output, wider stage, versatile, portable
Cons: no 4.4mm output
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*This review is based on the review of the first version on Hidizs AP80 Pro with the additional findings, highlights and details of the PRO-X successor.

For the last few years I’ve been observing how Hidizs has developed from a small domestic single-product company to the international and respected portable HiFi gear brand. My experience covers each single piece of their audio technology: AP100, AP200, AP60, AP60Pro, AP80 DAPs, all IEMs, cable DAC converters, stand alone DAC, etc. Can’t state that all of those had flawless performance but none has fallen short of expectations in terms of audio quality. Still love my old AP100 and still use AP80 as the most convenient one. Furthermore, Hidizs was the first to utilize HiBy OS with its excellent HiBy link option which has become a golden standard for various current DAPs from other brands.

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Today I would like to review Hidizs latest incarnation of very popular AP80 DAP series — AP80 PRO-X. There were couple of revisions of AP80 in the past, mostly dedicated to physical user experience, but AP80 PRO-X inherits the best features of its predecessor (AP80 PRO) and makes a huge leap of completely different nature — Pro version brings balanced circuit with the additional 2.5mm audio output and more power to drive higher loads…

Hidizs AP80 PRO-X technical data (differences / advantages over the previous AP80 PRO are in bold):
  • CPU: Ingenic X1000
  • DAC: Dual ES9219C
  • Decoding: DSD64/128/256, PCM 384kHz/32Bit
  • MQA: 8X
  • Output: Single-ended 3.5mm / Balanced 2.5mm
    • Single-ended Output: 70mW + 70mW @ 32Ω
      • Frequency Response: 20-90kHz
      • Total Harmonic Distortion+Noise: 0.0015% (1kHz)
      • Dynamic Range: 115dB
      • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 119dB
      • Channel Separation: 110dB (1kHz, A-weight, Rated Output)
    • Balanced Headphone Output: 190mW + 190mW @ 32Ω
      • Frequency Response: 20-90kHz
      • Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise: 0.0015% (1kHz)
      • Dynamic Range: 116dB
      • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 120dB
      • Channel Separation: 117dB (1kHz, A-weight, Rated Output)
  • Recommended Headphone Impedance Range 8-200Ω (Recommended value)
  • FM: NO
  • Pedometer Sensor: KX126
  • FPGA DSD: HBC3000
  • Operating System: HiBy OS 3.0
  • Bluetooth: Bidirectional Bluetooth 4.2, support aptX, LDAC, UAT
  • USB Port: Type-C, supports bidirectional USB DAC
  • Remote Operation: HiBy Link
  • Display: Samsung 2.45″ (480×360) IPS HD Touchscreen
  • Housing: Aluminium alloy CNC
  • Rear Cover Material: stereoscopic glass
  • Volume Knob: Japanese ALPS
  • Buttons 3 physical: play/pause, previous track, next track
  • Maximum Storage Expansion: 512GB with MicroSD
  • Battery: 800mAh 3.7V Li-Polymer Battery
  • Work time: PO interface: 8-11 hours runtime, LO interface: 6-8 hours runtime (depends on actual usage)
  • Standby: 40 days (depends on actual usage)
  • Charging Time: ~ 1 hour (5V, 2A)
  • Net Weight: 72g
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Going through new specs it is clear that the main change between AP80 PRO and PRO-X are next gen dual DACs (much better channel separation figures, less battery consumption in running and standby modes), better MQA support (8X unfold instead of 4X). Power output has not changed – 190mW per channel on BAL output.

It also happens so that I currently have both versions of this player and would be able to compare their musical and functional performance with similar IEMs.

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Packaging and design:

Many visual changes in that part. The box stayed similarly cute and small but it is now more appealing from a glance since containing glossy product graphics, more trademarks and initial information imprints. The insides are similarly well protected and neatly packed.

First goes soft podium that holds AP80 PRO-X, the rest of accessories in their boxes rest underneath. Here you would find:
  • AP80 PRO-X DAP with front and back screen guards pre-applied
  • USB type-C -> USB A cable
  • USB type-C -> microUSB cable
  • 2 additional front and back screen guarding film
  • couple of leaflets
  • short user manual
In contrary to its predecessor, there is no silicon case this time. I am not too upset since I wasn’t very happy with the case quality but I wounder why has Hidizs removed it from this bundle… Perhaps the new design has its own consequences…

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More appealing and significant changes found in AP80 PRO-X housing design compared to its previous version: it got even more complicated and definitely consumes even more CNC machine time. Right side edge acquired additional curves and edges that visually lead us to the main element – ALPS volume encoder. It now sits pretty tight, with no apparent rattle or free play. I would say that AP80 PRO-X design is now over complicated for such portable device and starts to remind about A&K shapes.

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Left edge displays carries “designed for Hidizs” text which probably means that Hidizs has turned to a new, more advanced design company, which has managed to keep familiar look, bringing some fresh details at the same time. The rest of its virtues remained the same — beautifully looking back covered with stereoscopic glass, intuitive controls, shiny flanges, comfortable physical buttons with tangible clicks.

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Screen size and performance didn’t change at all. It is the same 2.45″ IPS touchscreen with more than enough resolution and sensitivity for this type of a product. It behaves perfectly, has wide viewing angles and enough brightness to interact with it outside, even in the bright light environment.

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Performance and UI:

AP80 PRO-X is based on HiBy OS 3.0 and Ingenic X1000 CPU. This combination stays unchanged since the initial release of AP80 DAP and still demonstrates smooth behavior of the user interface. First scan is very fast even with 128GB cards full of different format tracks, all operations are quite snappy.

Seen couple of interface freezes when scrolling through large list of songs but 99% of other interactions are naturally responsive. Haven’t spotted any FW glitches with the latest 1.0 FW version, neither found any severe bugs or translation errors among function list. If you are using any smarpthones based on iOS or Android — you’d feel like being home. Each feature or program is represented by a separate icon.

All general device and audio settings are gathered in Settings Menu, whereas all deep and more precise audio preferences like EQ and filters are located only in HiBy Music application. By the way, HiBy Music looks very similar to its versions for other platforms. No surprises here. It also features such function as HiBy Link that allows you to control this DAP from a smartphone.

Menu structure:
  • Main screen apps:
    • Player
    • Step counter
    • Bluetooth
    • Book
    • System settings
    • About
  • System settings:
    • Language
    • Database update (Auto|Manual)
    • Brightness (1-100% slider)
    • Backlight time (stay on or 10 — 120 sec)
    • Color theme (ON|OFF, pattern selection, slider selection)
    • Font size (small|middle|big)
    • USB mode (Storage, Audio, Dock)
    • Button operation when screen is OFF (ON/OFF)
    • Time settings (date, format, time)
    • Idle timer (OFF, 1-10min)
    • Sleep timer (OFF, 5-120min)
    • Battery percentage display (ON|OFF)
    • Standby (ON|OFF)
    • InLine remote (ON|OFF)
    • Recording steps (ON|OFF)
    • Lock volume knob (ON|OFF)
    • Screensaver (OFF|Album cover|Dynamic cover)
    • Restore defaults
    • FW update
  • Bluetooth
    • ON|OFF
    • Device Name
    • HiBy Link (ON|OFF)
      • High Quality (SBC, aptX, UAT 600k, 900k, 1,2M, Prefer LDAC, LDAC standard, LDAC quality priority)
    • Bluetooth volume adjust
    • Search devices
    • Paired devices
    • Available devices
  • HibyMusic settings:
    • Update database
    • MSEB
    • EQ
    • Play settings:
      • Play mode (through list, loop single, shuffle, loop list)
      • DSD output mode (PCM, DoP, Native)
      • DSD gain compensation (0-6)
      • Resume play (none, track, position)
      • Gapless play (ON|OFF)
      • Soundfield (ON|OFF, -1 — 3)
      • Max volume
      • Power On volume (Memory, 0-100)
      • Crossfade (ON|OFF)
      • Gain (LOW|HIGH)
      • ReplayGain (none, by track, by album)
      • Balance
      • Antialiasing filter (LPFR, LPSR, MPFR, MPSR, AFR, ASR, CMPFR, BW)
      • Play through folders (ON|OFF)
      • Play through albums (ON|OFF)
  • Drop down PLAY NOW menu:
    • List now playing
    • Add to playlist
    • EQ
    • View album
    • Properties
    • Delete
  • PLAY NOW screen options:
    • PLAY|PAUSE
    • Seek slider
    • NEXT|PREVIOUS TRACK
    • PLAY MODE (shuffle, loop, etc)
    • Menu
    • Add to favorite
    • Show Lyrics
  • Swipe UP menu:
    • Bluetooth (ON/OFF)
    • GAIN (LOW/HIGH)
    • USB (DRIVE/DAC)
    • LineOUT Mode
    • Swipe to adjust backlight
    • Swipe to adjust volume
    • Play widget (previous / next track, play/pause, artist and song title)
Should say that the pedometer function was not reliable in AP80 PRO-X, don’t see much changes with the AP80 PRO. My Amazfit GTR2 watches show more steps for the similar period. Therefore, I wouldn’t use this function too much. The rest are working as it should.

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In order to update FW: we have to download FW from Hidizs website, unpack it and place update.upt file to the root of SD card. Than run FW update from System menu. It would take about a minute to get it done.

One of the most convenient function of HiBy OS — HiBy Link — that allows full remote control over HiBy Music player from a smartphone works great. Album covers, song list, play mode, volume — all major functions can be controlled from a smartphone. Love this function that makes AP80 home audio integration and remote control in such user case very convenient.

USB DAC:

I always check this function and spending some time watching live or recorded concerts on Youtube or other platforms. Short audio lag and good driver is what I would chase in this test.

USB DAC mode works perfectly either with the dedicated TUSB (ASIO) driver available at Hidizs website or with the native Windows 10 driver (USB DAC). But note that ASIO version might produce more audio lag which would not be very comfortable for watching videos. USB native DAC driver is completely free of this lag. There is no problems in video to audio stream synchronization while watching videos and sending sound through AP80 PRO-X to phones. Neither there are any problems of using it with Foobar2000 player over Wasapi (event or push).

Using AP80 PRO-X as external DAC for Xiaomi Redmi Note 8Pro smartphone with the provided microUSB type-C -> microUSB cable works fine. HiBy Music app recognized this device and allowed us to send bit-by-bit perfect stream.

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I have also checked such rarely used function as «transport»: sending digital audio stream though DAP USB to another DAC USB that drives home audio system. Even this scenario worked as expected.

Same scenarios of sending / receiving stream may also be used over bluetooth. So called bidirectional bluetooth DAC. Bluetooth supports aptX, LDAC and UAT codecs (along with lower audio quality standard codecs). I’ve been able to check aptX IEMs and UAT 1.2M device (HiBy W5 bluetooth receiver) — both worked fine while sending data from AP80 PRO-X. The distance was about 8-12 meters away before audio started to show some severe interruptions. The other way around was checked by sending audio stream from Redmi Note 8Pro to AP80 PRO-X over Bluetooth — no problems there either.

Audio quality:

First, I would like to share AP80 general impressions and than I would compare it to AP80P PRO and AP80 PRO-X by pointing out the changes. Such approach is logical because 3.5 audio output has not changed at all (or there are only subtle changes). Therefore, the main difference and new experience would come from balanced 2.5mm output. To keep this comparison precise, I’ve used AP80 + Hidizs Seeds 3.5mm V|S AP80 PRO and PRO-X + Hidizs Seeds 2.5 balanced IEMs. So, similar IEMs with different types of connection, same settings, same audio material.

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Initial AP80 impressions:

What I like the most is that AP80 sounds neutral with slight tendency towards bright/cold tonality. Lows, mids and highs are in good balance making this DAP universal to feed it with any kind of music genre. I would call it a precise source for connecting any further audio equipment like headphones, large power amps, active speakers, etc.

Good clarity and crispness on higher frequencies with the further ability to switch filter effects; precise texturing and presence of lows; powerfull, fast and punchy midbass; natural sounding at midrange with pleasing vocals and its weighted presence in the entire mix. ATH-M50 40Ohms load is easily driven by AP80 creating the feel of mature and balanced sound picture. Price niche (in comparison to more expensive DAPs) is only evident on higher frequencies (simplified, slightly rough, not that gentle) and overall texturing (not that over detailed).

The signature is a bit on the brighter side, no moody or tube-like performance, no cattle effect. Bass is completely enough to hear its nuances with ATH-M50, at least. Neither I’ve found the disturbing presence of sibilance in highest octave. Besides, I didn’t even try to play with HibyMusic MSEB feature that gives additional control over such aspects as:
  • sound temperature
  • bass extension
  • bass texture
  • note thickness
  • vocals
  • female overtones
  • sibilance LF
  • sibilance HF
  • impulse response
  • air
all of that was kept at default settings during out tests and the resulting sound didn’t require any changes. But the availability of such features, along with gain and filters, gives you a huge field for further experiments of tuning this source for the final audio equipment in chain.

Channel separation is better than entry-level models demonstrate but not so distant as in case with flagship DAPs or AMPs with coupled DAC chips. The resulting sound stage width, depth and instument location is equal or even a bit more than we would expected from such portable device. Monaural recordings show good distance and instrument placement on stage with clear horizontal and vertical position.

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I also tested AP80 with Hidizs Seeds IEMs and found that they make a great pair. ATH-M50, sometimes, might emphasize low frequencies and are very straight forward. Excellent for detail analysis and tests but too strict for getting some rest… Seeds IEMs are softer, warmer and smooth. They create the additional fluency while maintaining the same amount of details.

If to think about the best pairing: I would say that using AP80 PRO/PRO-X with tube amp like xDuoo MT601/602 makes a great effect of smoothing out timbre and tonality, making music more calm and delicate.

AP80 SE V|S AP80 PRO Balanced output:

The main advantage of using AP80 PRO/ PRO-X balanced output instead of AP80 3.5 SE is the amount of power it produces which inevitably leads to more juicy presentation, more dynamics (especially in midbass section), more clarity and transparency in overall.

Of course, this difference only becomes apparent with high impedance headphones or IEMs which require more power to be driven to an appropriate level. If pairing both DAPs with the same low impedance | high sensitivity IEMs the differences in sound get less apparent… Perhaps, the main difference is better instrument separation and larger imaginary stage. In other words — I like balanced output sound more due to extended assertiveness in combination with less cramped feel under the same circumstances. Difference between PRO and PRO-X alone is not that evident, at least I cannot spot such.

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Freedom to choose more demanding output head gear and having enough power in reserve under the hood — this what makes AP80Pro superior to its predecessor even if the changes in audio signature and characteristics are on the subtle side.

The difference between PRO and PRO-X alone is not that evident. Perhaps the stage became wider (at least it seems so). But at overall, sonically, both versions sound very similar to me and I wouldn’t be able to distinguish between them in a blind test.

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Conclusion:

Since the first day of arrival the initial version of AP80 became the main portable source of audio for me and was serving its role perfectly up till now. There were some bugs at the beginning which were eliminated by Hidizs with the new FW releases. The only arguable spec was its output power resulting into a range of final gear limited to a lower impedance.

AP80 PRO-X, being the latest generation, takes a huge leap and represents the most of the ultra-portable HiRES DAP nowadays. It inherited all the virtues of all previous generations, also comes with more polished and stable FW, incorporates huge amount of modern features and visually appeals too. It is balanced, powerful enough to drive all types of IEMs, earbuds and even some large overheads. Can’t even imagine which other new virtues would Hidizs introduce in the next generation in case if AP80 PRO-X is planned for future upgrades. It is already hell lot of powerhouse in a such tiny package. Perhaps – only the modern 4.4mm BL output is desired, although it is hardly possible due to tight space inside (you can check my AP80 teardown article LINK)

And the last, but not the least – should anyone upgrade from AP80 PRO? Only in case if better MQA handling is vital. Otherwise – probably not. But shifting from regular AP80 or something like Shanling M0 is a must. AP80 PRO-X is just so much better in all aspects.

Official AP80 PRO-X page and store: LINK

Thank you for reading.
Last edited by a moderator:
ledzep
ledzep
Will the pro x fit on the DH80 amp ?
Deleeh
Deleeh
Ask the Support from Hidizs.in the description they only mentioned the Ap 80 and Ap80pro.The pro X ist the newiest player they have.
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IryxBRO
IryxBRO
I don't see the reason why it should not. Form factor is almost the same and outputs location as well... Firmware is also featuring similar functions...
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