Hidizs AP100 Media Player
I've recently reviewed several high quality portable music players from various manufacturers. The AP100 made by Hidizs is the latest in this line-up of players, which seem to be released in time to take advantage of the upward trend in high-end headphone popularity and sales.
The AP100 is aimed at the budget conscious end of the market at just $330, and for that price, you get a reasonable product with plenty of connectivity options.
It has a 2.4” TFT LCD screen, micro USB and MicroSD card slots, and sockets for Headphone, Line-out, Coaxial digital input and output. It has a cast aluminium case which is painted textured black, and was supplied with a plastic flip cover which has a leather texture. The cables supplied allow all the connection options to be used: Micro USB cable (1m), 3.5mm male-to-male lead (5cm) and one 5cm lead with 3.5mm male plug one end, and the coaxial digital (RCA 75 ohm) plug on the other end.
The lack of an ubiquitous touch screen surprised me a little at first, and left me having to fumble for the “return” button on the front of the player to go back from any point in the menu. Although the fact that the main operating buttons are protected from wear and tear by the flip-over cover, the SRC (sample rate convert) and EQ select buttons on the side of the unit are easy to hit by accident while the AP100 is riding around in my pocket. However, the lock switch on the outside (visible with the cover closed) prevented any further sonic mishaps.
USB access to the internal file system for loading music on to the AP100 is like most other players, being recognised by Windows as a mass media device. With the name “AP100”, naturally, the files can simply be dragged or copy/pasted from a computer or NAS drive.
This player, with only 8GB internal memory built-in (expandable by up to 64GB MicroSD) did not recognise most of my Hi-res sample tracks. Of the tracks it did recognise as audio, only the 24 bit / 96kHz tracks would play, leaving the 192kHz and 384kHz tracks with no sound, and some very strange playback speeds on the display.
The sound from the headphone output of the AP100 is reasonably clean, but the sound seemed somewhat masked by some filtering and is definitely lacking some mid range and high frequency resolution from the tracks played. The low end frequencies seemed to be over-represented, even with the built-in EQ set to “Flat”. This made Norah Jones' “Shoot the Moon”, at 88.2kHz/24 bit, a little too intimate and warm. “Turn Me On” had a nice full kick drum, but still suffered from a lack of resolution of the cymbals and snare, and the vocals seemed to lack some clarity. Employing the unit's sample rate converter only resulted in a more harsh sound, without any actual improvement in the presentation of the content. This player seems to suffer quite a lot from a click between tracks of different formats or internal sample rate switching.
I'm perhaps being somewhat overly critical, with the recently reviewed and much higher priced Cowon Plenue P1 in mind for comparison. For the price, at just $299, this unit is certainly pitched at a less discerning market than the higher end that includes the likes of Plenue P1, Pono, Sony's high-res offerings, to name a few. The AP100 still does a great job, seemingly offering connectivity and simplicity over raw sound quality.
Hidizs AP100 is available now for $330 RRP, and is distributed in Australia by Minidisc.
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