Hidizs AP200 review: Long-delayed Hi-Fi music player with nice sound and Android
By: Alex Chub | 05.02.2018, 09:59
Chinese Hi-Fi audio players manufacturers (and headphones) regularly practice fund-rising for future models through crowd-funding platforms. That's what happened to the hero of today's review Hidizs AP200, which collected money at both Kickstarter and IndieGoGo. It's hard to say how there is now with the delivery to those who pre-ordered at Kickstarter, but the company claims it ships players to contributors, and the retailer already has it in stores. According to Hidizs, the player's development lasted 3 years, during this time, 120 design variants were made and 10 prototypes were produced. Let's see what happened in the end.
What is interesting about Hidizs AP200?
The player has two ESS ES9118C DACs for the left and right channels, each DAC is shielded with 24 karat gold. Plus, two independent quartz frequency oscillators are used to accurately reproduce audio with different sampling rates: one for DSD/44.1/88.2/176.4/352.8 kHz and the second for 48/96/192/384 kHz to reduce jitter. Of course, the AP200 supports most popular formats like Lossless: FLAC, APE, WMA, WAV, ALAC, Apple LOSSLESS, DSF, and DSDIFF, and compressed. There is hardware support for DSD 64/128, PCM up to 384kHz/32bit, ISO DSD. It's all pushed into a metal case with various back panel options and a touch screen in front. Everything is running under Android 5.1 Lollipop with all the consequences, although it's possible to switch to Pure Music mode with Hiby player only. Of course, there is Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 with the support of the aptX codec. The internal memory is from 8 GB to 64 GB depending on the version with the ability to insert a memory card up to 256 GB. Unfortunately, a balanced output is not provided.
What is in the box?
The player comes in a relatively small black cardboard box. The front part has the Hidizs logo, and the back includes a specifications list and what is inside the box list:
And inside there is a Hidizs AP200, a short USB Type-C cable (we had a MicroUSB-Type-C kit), a plastic protective bumper, an additional screen protector (one glued already to the device) and a couple of pieces of paper with information:
How it looks and assembled?
The player will be delivered in a bunch of different versions. The main body can be cut from a piece of aluminum or steel, and the back can be glass, wooden or carbon. Colors are also different: we have a demo of a standard silver color with a glass back. The more interesting comes in blue. The main part of the front panel is occupied by 3.54 inches IPS-screen with a 960x640 resolution, there are decent black frames around the perimeter, but this is a player, not a smartphone, so everything is fine. The bottom has a small metal "chin" with a cutout. All metal of the player has a polished surface with a vertical texture:
The functional elements around the perimeter are not so many. The most "loaded" is the bottom part. It has a USB Type-C connector for downloading music and recharging, an open slot for MicroSD and a gold-plated 3.5 mm headphone jack:
The left side has only three physical control buttons: separate Play/Pause and paired with switchers. We will discuss this one more detail below:
At the top there is a power button, the right side is empty:
The back is made of glass and immediately sealed with a protective cover. It has only the Hidizs logo and some technical information:
The player is assembled well and feels completely monolithic, in the hand it feels good thanks to the compact (by the standards of Hi-Fi players) linear dimensions, although the thickness is typical for this class of devices. The only thing that confuses is the aluminum's quality: I do not know for how long, how many people and how accurately used the sample before me, but is has scratches on the case already. As a bonus, the set has a plastic bumper, not the most convenient, but its work is done:
Is it comfortable to use?
Let's pass to, perhaps, the most controversial part of the player - user's comfort. Both in terms of physical elements and software. I felt the first pain from the physical buttons. It is extremely important and critical for me to switch songs without removing the player from my pocket in crowded transport. On the Hidizs AP200 it's almost impossible, especially if you use a player with a bumper. The fact is that the above mentioned paired buttons with switchers handle the volume. Tracks are switched by double pressing on them, thus, for the following track half of the rocker with "cut off" on the top is responsible. So, feel it in jeans is extremely difficult. And keeping the player in the hands is not too simplistic the task: the buttons work out weird, and the second click must be done quickly, so instead of switching the track, we regularly get a decrease in volume, and sometimes for a reason I do not understand, the current one starts from the very beginning instead of the next track. You cannot reassign buttons, at least in the current firmware version:
And now let's see about the software. This part often becomes a chick in the armor of Chinese Hi-Fi players: the player can sound and look great, but the software is sometimes extremely disastrous, which spoils all impressions. I had it with AUNE M2 Pro. Hidizs AP200 runs on OS Android 5.1 with two interface options. Inside there is a quad-core processor Rockship RK3188, 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of internal memory. As practice with other players with similar stuff inside has shown, it suffices for smooth and confident work with adequate software. AP200 does not yet got this: the latest firmware is 0.2.2 Beta. It refused to update via Wi-Fi, but the procedure is as simple as possible, so there will be no problems with the firmware. The interface is very slow, and the screen does not work out the touch accurately. The lags can be in different situations, starting with switching tracks (you need to wait a few seconds) and ending with the elementary switching of the playback mode. Let's start with the Pure Music option, in which only the Hiby player is available. It includes three conventional parts, which are turned over by horizontal swipes. In the main menu, you can log into your Hibymusic account (if you have one) and play music from the cloud. There is a hand-held music scanner on the device with the ability to filter by size and duration and auto-create a playlist. Although the player knows how to do this automatically. There is an equalizer, a DSP plug-in manager, advanced settings with auto update check switches, Gapless-playback, the ability to auto-pause when removing headphones, DSD modes and so on. Then we have the download manager, auto-shutdown timer and software information. The second screen is a library of all the added music, filtered through folders, albums, artists. The third is a playback screen with a standard set: information about the song and the audio file itself, the playback controls and the ability to add the current track to the playlist. In the quick access there are Bluetooth switches, Wi-Fi, PC connection mode (memory or USB-DAC), amplification, Android/Pure Music mode, auto power off and the button for audio settings. You can adjust the gain level, the digital filter mode, the channels balance and the ability to control the player using the remote on the headset:
In Android mode there are standard desktops, the menu with applications, browser, gallery, explorer and Play Market, so you can safely install third-party applications. In our sample, there was also installed an alternative application store Aptode. Most likely it is not standard in the firmware, but was installed manually before me:
How does the Hidizs AP200 sound?
Now about the pleasant part. Let's remind, the sound is made with the pair of ESS ES9118C DACs with screening of 24 carats gilding, two independent quartz frequency oscillators and amplifier Texas Instruments TPA6120A2. It supports DSD256 and PCM up to 32 bit/384 kHz. The player was used with headphones Campfire Audio Polaris, Whizzer A15 Pro, T-Peos H-300, Sennheiser HD 215, Sony MDR-7506, Beyerdynamic T70, Oppo PM-3, AKG K550MKII. Apparently, the company tried to make the player's sound universal both in terms of headphones and musical styles. In general, it succeeded: by itself, the sound depends on the headphones, but with none of the above-mentioned models there were no peaks or dips for separate pieces of the frequency range, no too bright HF or sibilants. The player sounds musically and smoothened, with minimal care in dark shades. With an eye for the mass user. Low frequencies are very weighty, textured and massive where it's needed. Some symphonic compositions are added monumentality, especially when listening to some quality live recording. Here, LF fast, high hitting and well controlled. The middle is in its place, it is not pushed into the background, it sounds real and natural, without excessive analyticity, leaving room for the emotional filling. Both live instruments and vocals sound very tasty. The high frequencies are smoothed a little, apparently, this is done considering such class of listeners as HF-fobs. And simply, there are headphones, which are dazzling at the expense of high frequency. At the same time, one cannot say there are not enough of them or they are poorly worked out: there are exactly as many as necessary to keep the "air" in the general. The imaginary scene is very well developed in width and depth, with a very decent separation of instruments. Again, especially pleasant sensations are obtained on quality live recordings with an abundance of various instruments.
What about the battery?
The player uses a non-removable battery for 3100 mAh. The fast charging with the LG G6 charges a little over 2 hours. Based on personal experience, a full charge of the battery is enough for about 8 hours of battery life in Low Gain mode and a loudness of 70 (out of 100). Quite decent indicators for this class of devices.
The bottom line
The three-years delayed Hidizs AP200 at the moment can be called ambiguous, although there are prospects. It will give the future owner a lot of positive emotions thanks to a very kind, driving sound without obvious whims from the point of musical styles or used headphones view, versatility for all occasions due to Android, USB DAC functions and the availability of wireless modules. Plus, the external player looks decent. At the moment, I was confused by two things in the player: the first was a strange realization of mechanical control buttons, with which I could not make friends and very sloppy software with slowdowns and lags. The player costs about 7800 UAH and it seems that it is currently the most affordable Hi-Fi player on Android, which for some users can seal the deal.
4 reasons to buy Hidizs AP200:
high-quality universal sound;
Bluetooth with aptX, Android, Wi-Fi and other advanced features;
possibility to use as USB DAC;
stylish iron body.
2 reasons not to buy Hidizs AP200:
inconvenient physical controls;
quad-core Rockchip RK3188
8GB of internal (on sale at 32 GB), 256 GB microSD
3.54 ", IPS, 960x640 pixels, touch screen
Texas Instruments TPA6120A2
130 mW @ 32Ω
Signal to noise ratio
76 dB (1 kHz)
up to 384 kHz/32 bit
DSD64/DSD128, APE, ALAC, AIFF, FLAC, WAV up to 384/32, WMA, MP3, AAC, ALAC, WMA, OGG
3100 m·Ah, 8-10 hours playback
USB 2.0 (Type-C), 3.5 mm, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX