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RUIZU A50

Rating:
4.16667/5,
  1. crabdog
    Pocket powerhouse
    Written by crabdog
    Published Jul 30, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Fantastic build quality. Tiny form factor. High output power. Price
    Cons - Sudden roll-off above 10 kHz
    20170730_121805.jpg

    RUIZU is known by many in the Head-Fi community for their budget level music players. The company also makes other electronic devices such as watches and voice recorders but not much else is known at this time although I was able to find their website here.

    Their latest DAP is a step up (at least in price) to their previous offerings so I was very keen to run it through its paces and see how it compares to other similarly priced players in this suddenly burgeoning segment. So let's get started and take a look at the RUIZU A50 Lossless Mini Sport Mp3 player and see if it deserves to be part of your personal rig.

    Disclaimer
    This product was sent to me for the purpose of an honest review. I have no affiliation with the company or seller and all observations and opinions are my own, based on my experience with the product.

    The A50 currently retails for $55 and can be purchased from Penon Audio: https://penonaudio.com/RUIZU-A50

    Packaging and accessories

    The A50 comes in a typical styled, white box with an image of the player on the front. On the back are listed some of the features.

    20170711_211805.jpg 20170711_211831.jpg

    Opening the box reveals the player secured in a white foam cutout. Under the foam is the included USB charging and transfer cable, a User's manual and warranty card.

    20170711_211914.jpg 20170711_211959.jpg

    Build and functionality

    The A50 feels good in your hand from the moment you pick it up. It has a nice weight to it that makes it feel strong and premium. The matte black finish of the aluminum chassis feels really smooth and it doesn't show any fingerprints at all. The screen is a glass panel that takes up the entire front side and is actually real glass, unlike some other budget DAPs that throw on a plastic one so it should be fairly resistant to scratches but it does become marred easily with fingerprints. Fortunately with the player being so small it's very easy to wipe the screen clean.

    In use the 2.5 inch TFT screen, which has a resolution of 240 * 320px shows text clearly but album art is very small, similar to the IQQ C18 and Mrobo C5. The brightness level is adjustable but it can still be difficult to see the display in direct sunlight even on the brightest setting.

    The player is rectangular in shape with a couple of subtle additions that give it a nice aesthetic appeal. First is the top right corner which is rounded off to follow the contour of the control wheel. Secondly there's a raised section on the right side that gets slightly bigger at the bottom and this really helps give the A50 an interesting look rather than just having a straight box shape. The corners on the front are a little sharp for my preference (except the rounded top right one) but it doesn't cause any discomfort in your hand or pocket.

    On the top there's a 3.5 mm headphone jack, metal power button and scroll wheel. The scroll wheel is used to scroll through menus (also available with side buttons) and volume control. It's also a button that functions as the select key in menus. On the now playing screen a long press on the button acts as the play/pause button and with a short press brings up the option to add the song to a playlist or delete the file. The power button doubles as the screen on/off. While the screen is off all buttons become inactive except for volume control.

    20170730_115447.jpg 20170711_212122.jpg

    There are 3 buttons on the left side and they are (from top to bottom) back/previous screen, forward and back. A long press on the back button returns you to the main menu. The forward and back buttons can be used to navigate menus, rewind and fast forward and for shuttle control. There's also a pinhole reset between the back and rewind buttons.

    20170711_212105.jpg 20170711_212230.jpg

    On the bottom are the micro USB port and Micro SD card slot. And that's all there is to it. It's a relatively simple setup and I found it to be much more intuitive to use than the NiNTAUS X10 and Mrobo C5 and on par with the IQQ C18 but the scroll wheel on the A50 is more accurate and easier to use.

    20170711_212047.jpg

    Onto the menus now and from the main menu screen these are the options:
    • Settings
    • Music
    • Category
    • Folder view
    • Equalizer
    • My favorite
    • Play Settings
    20170728_153137.jpg 20170728_153420.jpg 20170728_153356.jpg

    For some reason the Category menu and the Music menu are the same and I'm not sure why. Perhaps it's an error or a filler but maybe it will be changed/fixed in a future firmware update.

    20170728_153201.jpg 20170728_153336.jpg 20170728_153509.jpg 20170728_153251.jpg

    I used a 64 GB Micro SD card for testing the A50. After inserting the card the player would take about 20 seconds to update the music library but I recently formatted the card and there aren't a lot of files on it. With a full card the update takes a bit longer but during my testing it didn't take longer than a minute.

    The UI feels snappy and responsive, much more so than the IQQ C18 DAP. Navigating is simple using the scroll wheel/button and the back button. For the most part everything works in a logical fashion apart from a couple of minor quirks but none worth mentioning.

    Album art needs to be fairly small in size, otherwise it doesn't display and you get a generic cover image. The now playing screen shows all the relevant information including (from top to bottom):
    • Volume
    • Play mode
    • EQ setting
    • Available storage space
    • Battery indicator
    • Album cover
    • Song title
    • Artist
    • Album
    • Current bit-rate
    • Play/pause indicator
    • Song position/length
    • Track number
    Note that the player is said to support DSD256 but at the time of writing this review it does not. It should do in the near future with RUIZU's next firmware update. I did test DSD128 and it works flawlessly and plays instantaneously without the slightest startup delay.

    Unfortunately there's no gapless playback at this stage but that might also change with a future firmware version. Only a few of my albums are seamless so the lack of gapless didn't bother me at all. It's something to keep in mind however, if that feature is important to you.

    Breakpoint resume IS supported and it works very well. If music is playing when you switch the player off it will resume playing after powering on and if the music is paused at the time of shutdown it will be paused when you turn the player back on. Perfect.

    Overall the A50 is a pleasure to use and my only (very minor) gripe is that I wish the scroll wheel had a bit more resistance in order to avoid accidental volume changes while handling the unit.

    Specification
    • Brand Model: A50
    • Headphones, the output power ≥ 80mW
    • Transmission interface: MICRO 5PIN, USB2.0
    • System language: support multiple languages
    • Expansion card: Support MicroSD (TF) card to 128GB
    • Storage type: Flash Memory
    • Memory capacity: NO Memory
    • Screen size: 2.5ISP glass screen 240 * 320 display
    • Battery: 800 mA polymer battery
    • Operating system audio format: Window XP, VISTA, WINDOWS 10
    • Support Format :MP3, WMA, WAV, APE, FLAC, ACC, OGG, AIFF, DSD256
    • Charging time: about 1 hour (using 5V / 1000 mA charger)
    • Play time: about 15 hours (headset volume 30 screensaver to play lossless music)
    Sound

    Most of my testing was done with the DUNU DK-3100 because I'm also reviewing that at present but also because it has quickly become one of my favorite IEMs. For critical listening and comparisons however I resorted to the Ultrasone Performance 860 because of its linearity and excellent resolution and because it is my reference headphone.

    The A50 sounds musical and full bodied but still detailed. That's doesn't mean it has a warm sound though, just that it is mostly transparent and reproduces sound in the same way it was recorded. It doesn't appear to add any coloring to the sound but neither does it have an analytical presentation. While not as resolving as higher end DAPs it's certainly up there with the best I've heard in the sub one hundred section.

    Soundstage on this little player is good, with a nice spacious presentation that goes fairly wide but also has some depth. There is good layering but I have some misgivings about the dynamic range. It seems to be lacking extension in the very high frequencies and drops off suddenly after 10 kHz. There's usually not much happening in music at that range but it does seem to lessen the sense of air at the high end.

    Pairing

    The A50 worked surprisingly well with everything I threw at it. I tested it with many different IEMs including the LZ A4, TFZ Balance 2M and DUNU DK-3001. I couldn't detect any background noise or hiss with any of those. I found that with the earphones I was using a comfortable listening level was between 10 and 20 (maximum is 100).

    When it came to full-sized headphones, the A50 again took the task in it's stride, including the Ultrasone Performance 860, MSUR N650 and Acoustic Research H1 Planar Magnetic. Those are all low impedance headphones but I was astonished at its ability to drive the 250 Ohm Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro which I was using at only around 50% volume! Not only that but the bass still had loads of authority and the sound was full-bodied and satisfying.

    Battery life

    The battery life is rated at around 15 hours and I found this to be fairly accurate. If you're using a sensitive IEM at low to moderate volume it might be a bit more. Adversely, if you're using something harder to drive or high volume it may be a little less. Overall though I was happy with the amount of play time and with fast charging technology built-in the device needs only an hour for a full charge.

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    Comparisons

    NiNTAUS X10
    Has a better screen layout and album art looks sharper. The UI and navigation is inferior with the unnecessarily complicated volume controls and awkward button layout. Battery life is more than double the A50 but output power is significantly lower. Soundstage is slightly more narrow but there's very little in it. Tonality is very similar but layering doesn't seem quite as good. Has a dedicated line out which the A50 lacks.

    Mrobo C5 V2
    The screen and album art is inferior compared to the A50. UI and navigation is inferior with awkward button layout though fortunately volume is controlled in the same manner (with the scroll wheel). Battery life is more than double but output power is lower. Tonality is similar with resolution and layering almost indistinguishable between the two. Soundstage is very similar on both though maybe a little less depth on the C5.

    Benjie T6
    Album art is vastly superior but menu text is very narrow making navigation more difficult. The T6 has its "D-Pad" type controls which is by far my preferred system but it would be so much better with a dedicated back button added. Soundstage is slightly wider and there seems to be more extension in the upper treble adding an airiness to the sound. Although the T6 has a high gain setting it still has less maximum output power. Battery life is very similar. T6 has Bluetooth but also has an inferior plastic screen compared to glass on the A50. Superior dynamic range.

    20170730_115549.jpg

    Conclusion

    The A50 has a fantastic build quality that outshines all others that I've tested in the budget segment, even the Mrobo C5. RUIZU's player is the only one that has a proper glass screen, making it look more premium and also making it more resistant to scratches and loss of clarity over time. The chassis is beautifully crafted and all metal buttons are icing on the cake. It simply looks and feels more premium than the competition.

    With a very logical UI and button layout, plus the scroll wheel it's a pleasure to use and the small size makes it extremely portable and convenient. When the sound quality is added to the equation the RUIZU A50 stands out as an incredibly good value and if you're looking for a high quality, budget DAP there are not many that can compete with this one.
      Toastybob, hqssui, Suneerat and 11 others like this.
  2. zhubajie
    Looks great, sounds great, well built.
    Written by zhubajie
    Published Jul 30, 2017
    4.0/5,
    Pros - Well built, great looks, neutral sound, handles well
    Cons - Interface quirks (as with all cheap Chinese DAPs)
    I ordered the Ruizu A50 myself because I liked it's looks so I thought I'd do a mini review.
    I also have the IQQ C18, Hidizs AP60, Nintaus X10 and several other Benjie, Onn, Ruizu, Sansa, Sony, Apple etc. players. All bought myself.

    Impressions after 3 days of use
    I used it with the Fiio EX1v2.
    • + Looks great.
    • + Relatively heavy, built like a tank which really gives it a feel of quality. Very well built too.
    • + Beautiful rounded glass front panel.
    • + When you switch it on it opens in last track on the position it was last.
    • - The manual I received was only in Chinese.
    • - The device was set to Chinese when I first started it but I had it changed in seconds; all was very clear.
    • - A bit sharp corners but not irritating.
    • - I noticed the device has problems with large SD cards with many .mp3 files in one directory. It takes relatively long and it doesn't always work. Luckily you can always play through Folder View. (*)
    • - The classification menu and the Music menu contain identical choices.
    • + The scroll wheel distinguishes between short press and long press. Long press is play/pause and short press is a menu with Add to Playlist and Delete. I would personally have prefered that to work the opposite way.
    • - As with many Chinese players the bottom button is next track and the top button is previous track. It would be nice it I could switch that around.
    • - The scroll wheel also works opposite to what you (or better, I) would expect. But you'll quickly get used to that.
    • - No Low/High gain setting.
    • - No line-out port.
    • - It charges in about an hour.
    • + High output power for such a small device (≥ 80mW).
    • - The A50's processor is somewhat weak so it responds quite sluggish with large cards with a lot of files. In it's defence; even my fast PC with windows 10 on it has trouble with very large directories.
    • - No setting for when buttons are active in which situation.
    • - It shows cover art but I think it doesn't show anything above 500x500 pixels.
    There were no earbuds in the box (I don't see this as a minus at this price).

    *) I used a MicroSD card of 64GB with 2 directories of which one has over 4000 files.

    The firmware version it came with is 1.101.10 (2017-06-05).

    Conclusion
    Even though there are quite some minusses in the list above when all weighed the end result is I absolutely love it. It looks stunning, it works well, it's built absolutely great and the price is great!
    At this price point the manufacturer has to make choices. It would be impossible to have only plusses at this price.

    I'd say Ruizu has a hit here! Especially if they fix some things with firmware.
    I can really recommend it.
  3. deltecdpa
    Nice built, big sound
    Written by deltecdpa
    Published Dec 30, 2017
    4.5/5,
    Pros - Excellent build quality, high output power, great SQ for the price
    Cons - Slow volume changing, clickwheel sometimes is temperamental.
    Got this beautiful item few days ago. Very classy manufacturing and UI is good enough apart from volume change, need to turn a lot the wheel, that sometimes works unpredictably. Very powerful paired with my Ultimate Ears UE900S quad-BA. The sound quality... EQ off, really impressive, powerful but not overwherming or messy bass (that lacking on my Xuelin 770c) clear mids and highs and expecially some small details I never heard before! What a bargain for this price! (edited after a firmware update that fixed some strange issues about reproducting some sounds, I think it was an old corrupted firmware)
      Toastybob likes this.