Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget Pilipinas

These days, Smartphones have evolved to a point that they can do everything well. That includes playing music. In fact, some are even equipped to specialize in it.

Despite all this, there are people like me, who still appreciate the benefits of having a dedicated music player. Personally, I’m one of those guys who wouldn’t mind carrying a separate device for music, simply because the sound that comes from it satisfies my ears more.

Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget PilipinasSo today, I’m doing my first ever Digital Audio Player review, and it’s the latest product from Hidizs, the AP80 – a small, yet very capable piece of work.

Specifications
OS Hiby 3.0 Linux Version
Supported Formats 32-bit/348 kHz
DSD Support DSD 64/128
aptX Yes
Display 2.45″ Touch, 480 x 360
DAC ESS ES9218P
Dimensions 58 x 49 x 13.5mm
Headphone Jack 3.5mm
Storage MicroSD Card, Up to 1TB
Battery 800mAh
Fast Charge USB-C
Out of the Box

I like that Hidizs puts a lot of attention to the packaging of its products. Despite the AP80 being technically, a budget DAP, you still get more than enough goodies from the box.

Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget PilipinasApart from the USB-C cable and manual, there’s the package also comes with a USB-C to MicroUSB cable. The length is a bit short, but it’ll come in handy. The company is also generous enough to include a jelly case. It’s not the prettiest case in the world, but having it on the device still gives you some peace of mind, which is better.

You also get screen protectors for both the front and back, and an e-gift card, which contains a code that you can use to get 10% off your purchase of a Hidizs product.

Design

Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget PilipinasAt 58 x49 x13.5 mm, the AP80 is one of the smallest DAP’s I’ve seen, apart from the Cowon Plenue D, and a Philips Go Gear that I had a few years back. Its edges are slightly curved, but still feel sharp.

Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget PilipinasThe entire housing is made of Aluminium Alloy and feels quite sturdy. Its size also makes it an ideal partner for running, if paired with the corresponding armband.

Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget PilipinasOn the left side of the device is a microSD card slot, which supports up to a 1TB card.

Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget PilipinasThe volume dial on the right has a satisfying clicky feel to it. Just below it is buttons for controlling playback – Previous, Play/Pause and Next. They’re pretty easy to distinguish, but it would’ve been nice if they were a little bigger.

Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget PilipinasAt the bottom, you’ll find the USB-C port, and the headphone jack. Unlike the Hiby R3, this one doesn’t have a 2.5mm balanced out port, which kind of makes sense for its size.

Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget PilipinasUp front is a 2.45” IPS touch display with a resolution of 430 x 360. As expected, colors are really punchy, and brightness is more than enough. You’ll also notice that the screen doesn’t take up the whole face of the device, perhaps to give space to the components inside.

Performance

Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget Pilipinas

The display itself is quite responsive, though not as fluid as what you’d get from say a midrange Android Smartphone, which is totally fine.Under the hood is an Ingenic X1000 chip and an ES9218P DAC, the same one that you’ll find in the Shanling M0.

The AP80 can be used as a USB DAC for say, a laptop. While this feature can be considered as a bit of an extra at this price point, it’s there, if you want to use it.

It supports Bluetooth 4.0 and Apt-X, so you can pair this one up with your home speakers, or even with today’s trend, True Wireless Headphones. It also supports up to DSD 128, a format which is even higher than CD quality.

Volume can be precisely adjusted in single steps up to 100, though my ears are already ringing at around 60. There’s no volume normalization here of any sorts, so you may find yourself adjusting it as you skip through tracks.

Software

Hidizs AP80 runs Hiby OS (Version 3 to be specific), the same OS that runs on Hidiz’s other DAP, the AP200, and the popular Hiby R3 and Hiby R6.

Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget PilipinasThe interface is pretty much straightforward and easy to use. Updating the library is done in a single tap, and it gives you the options to select a particular folder where it will play the songs from. You can browse by folder, artist, album, genre or even format. Navigation is mostly done by swiping left and right.

Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget PilipinasYou can also create playlists from the player itself. The Now Playing screen shows track info, time, a seek bar, playback controls, and supposedly album art. I had a Cowon Plenue D, and that shows album art perfectly every single time. If I remember correctly, even my previously owned AP200 showed album art perfectly fine. This one, I’m not so sure why it doesn’t, not that I really need it.

Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget PilipinasYou can customize the color theme of the UI to your heart’s content, change the font size, adjust the display brightness, backlight time out, left and right balance, among a lot of other options. There’s also a small menu that appears when you swipe upwards, allowing you to control the volume, turn Bluetooth on and off, and more.

Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget PilipinasPerhaps my favorite part of this OS, is MSEB, or Mage Sound Eight Ball, which allows you to fine tune the sound signature by adjusting a bunch of sliders. What’s even more amazing is how responsive the player is to the adjustments that you make. There’s also a separate equalizer, though I don’t really use it.

Want your sound bright? No problem, want it warm? Move the slider more to the left. You can also set how forward the vocals are, and how airy the sound is.

Sound Quality

Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget PilipinasBefore reading this part, I’d like to clarify that I’ll try to describe the sound to the simplest terms that I can. Your perception may be different, as we all have different ears.

Tested using the Sony XBA N3 IEM.

Bass. By default, the bass on this player is just right. In Reason for Breathing by Babyface, there’s enough thumping to keep your head swaying, but not too much that it ruins the other frequencies. Of course, you can sort of enhance it with MSEB or even the default equalizer, but for non-bassheads, this is a treat.

Mids. Vocals come across crisp and clear. In Patti Austin’s All Behind Us Now, the vocals go slightly above the instruments, to the benefit of the XBA N3, an IEM that I’d say specializes in presenting vocals. With everything going on, every “s” and “ch” is clearly audible, without being piercing.

Highs. In Maroon 5’s Maps, the percussion instruments at the back are presented with superb clarity and resonance. Again, the AP80 showcases its prowess of separating instruments, such that you can clearly distinguish individual sounds from each instrument even when there’s a ton of things going on in the background.

With MSEB and its Equalizer off, the AP80 is a pretty balanced-sounding DAP, offering just the right amount of bass, sweet vocals, and clear highs. It also offers good instrument separation, and just enough sparkle in the treble so that each song sounds as lively as it should be.

Battery Life

Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget PilipinasWith the screen off, and volume ranging from 50 to 60, I was able to get around 11 hours of continuous playback time from the AP80, which is really good considering the player’s very compact size. The unit we had charged to 100% at around 2 hours when connected via my PC’s front USB port. It’ll most likely be faster when using a dedicated charger.

Hidizs AP80, Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded, Gadget Pilipinas
Hidizs AP80 Review: Well-Rounded
Our Verdict
If you want an extremely portable music player that won't break the bank, the Hidizs AP80 is an exceptional choice, This player demonstrates a well-balanced sound signature that should appeal to most users. It offers a ton of useful features - MSEB which allows you to fine-tune the sound to your liking, Bluetooth, and USB DAC functionality, combined with an OS that's tested and well-refined. You also get good battery life, for such as small device. It has a gorgeous-looking and responsive display, and the build quality is also excellent. Of course, some things could've been better. There's no on-board storage, and the buttons, while easily distinguishable, could've been bigger. For a price of USD 139 or PhP7,250, it's hard to find a better package than this. If you're not willing to spend a ton of money, but in need of a dedicated audio player that's compact, sounds good and works well out of the box, then this is one of those devices.
Design and Build Quality
Sound Quality
Features
Battery Life
Price
What's Good
Sonically Balanced
Well-Built
Properly Priced
Extremely Compact
Intuitive UI
Good Battery Life
What's Not
No Built-In Storage
Physical Buttons are Too Small
4.4
Author

Emman has been writing technical and feature articles since 2010. Prior to this, he became one of the instructors at Asia Pacific College in 2008, and eventually landed a job as Business Analyst and Technical Writer at Integrated Open Source Solutions for almost 3 years.

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