Hidizs Technology Corporation is focused on making DAPs. Specifically, those that are budget oriented. I have the second model they have entered into the fray all while they are already teasing their third, the AP200. The AP60 is their cheapest option, at £75.99 in the UK, but that is not to say it doesn’t boast a good featureset! Coming in 5 loud colour options and even having licensed Hello Kitty and Marvel editions, this could easily be perceived simply as a fun and cheerful option, it is only on closer inspection you notice all that it offers!
Is too much a good thing?
For something that comfortably fits in the palm of your hand this really doesn’t let up on the flagships when it comes to versatility. Obviously, at a base level, it can have your earphone plug into its 3.5mm jack but beyond that, this actually gets more and more impressive. It is fully kitted out with apt-x for high-quality Bluetooth and it can be used for more than just working seamlessly with some headphones like my FIIL models or u-Jays Wireless. It can actually be used as a Bluetooth DAC, an example of this would be pairing it with my OnePlus 2 smartphone and streaming Tidal through the headphone output of the AP60! There are some real neat touches with this DAP I will have to admit that.
Another real kicker for me is how much the micro USB connector can do. Like many DAPs, it has an option to be used along with your computer as a USB DAC/headphone amp, which to be honest, doesn’t excite me too much. However, what does is that the USB port can be used to output audio to an external DAC, making this a cheap and small transport for the likes of a Chord Mojo or Leckerton UHA760. That is something I do love!
Turning towards specs and I want to start with the fact that this is native to most audio formats, including DSD. I remember a time when DSD was something only the vastly more expensive Astell & Kern players could offer but now we have it for under a hundred quid, times have indeed changed. That is DSD up to 128 mind you and PCM is also catered for up to 24/192. Its battery is 1000mAh which with my mind focused on smartphones sounds small but without the bloat of a phone’s UI, this still manages to last over 10 hours, of course depending on a few factors.
I finally thought it was worthwhile paying some attention to what chipsets Hidizs decided on. For the DAC they have followed suit with a lot of brands and gone for some Asahi Kasei Microdevices silicon. With this being more budget orientated it hasn’t implemented the AK4490 but instead an AK4452VN. It shares this in common with the trendy Shanling M1 as well as the SMSL DP1 and features 8 channels of AKMs “Velvet Sound” architecture! The analogue section uses an op amp from Maxim Integrated called the MAX97220A. This outputs 35mW into 32 ohms and additionally has adjustable gain, in both high and low settings. This is a limited amount of power and I think this sets its intentions clear on being focused on IEMs.
Picking up the 70mm by 42mm device with its 2-inch display may have you surprised by an unusual amount of heft versus something like the featherweight Fiio M3. It is still under 50 grams but has a solid element to it. It states the use of a resin alloy so while it is still an acrylic material, it comes built to last. You may be put off by the fact it is not a perfect rectangle but I really like the small groove on the bottom left corner. It allows the 3.5mm headphone port to be recessed so if you use a right angled jack, it will align flush with the bottom of the DAP. The output also looks of high quality, with a metal ring around it like on the high-end Sony offerings.
Pressing the circular button on the side will turn the device on as well as act as a standby button. Along with the screen lighting up, some touch capacitive buttons also illuminate under the display which will be used to navigate the user interface of the AP60. The buttons are naturally a bit small and I did find this to be a bit finicky when trying to finger in commands. It may be alright if there were just the 4 arrow buttons and the middle select option but the additional menu and back button are very close to the left and right arrows and I often didn’t get the action I wanted. I even accidentally turned the gain on to ‘high’ once which wasn’t pleasant on my ears at all! I much prefer the tactile feel of physical volume rocker which is dipped on the side to remove decibels so you can control volume from in a bag or pocket, without having to get the device out.
The actual UI was better than I expected. I started by sticking a micro SD card in that was packed with music (this has not internal memory so will need an SD or OTG USB storage) and then went on the first of 4 options in the main menu, “music browse”. I was disappointed to be met with the classic folder view of music, instead of a breakdown based on metadata. It was only when I backed up and elected “music category” I was happy to find that it did indeed isolate your music into the standard options you now come to expect! You then have both your music and system settings, which include a 10 band EQ, channel balance and gapless playback. Once you select a song you get artwork, which was nice on a cheaper device. If the buttons were a bit bigger and less compact, this would be an absolutely great UI and I am still pretty impressed even with a few annoyances at times.
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