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Remember what we’ve started this review blog with about 2 years ago? One of the first review was dedicated to the newly intorduced Hidizs AP100 — portable high fidelity music player that outperformed many of its rivals despite a significantly lower cost. That model represented the essence of our blog name — THE_marketchangers — because it showed the way of creating excellent device while maintaining the best price-to-performance ratio…

And today, we are glad to present you the new flagship Hi-Fi portable player model from the same company — Hidizs — AP200.

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Claimed to be developed for two years period, with countless iterations of producing samples and testing, Hidizs has finally came up with the model that should shift the expectation even higher, giving the best possible experience of listening to music. No matter whoever you are, just a music fan or an audiophile — AP200 has many features to impress everyone!

meet-final

Lets start with the short video overview of this device:

Beautiful, isn’t it? But we would like to describe it again with more technical details. Just follow our text further… Again, this is not a final review. This is just an overview or a first look since the device is yet to be finalized. All units that has been sent to some reviewers are intended to produce the necessary feedback to polish the final production and get rid of bugs, if any.

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Technical specifications:

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Too much of attention drawing and interesting stuff here. I would point out the next features and specifications that are of the most interest to me:

  • 2 x flagship DACs — 1 per channel. Means that L|R channels should be more balanced and separated giving some more scene width.
  • 24K gold shielding of DACs and 3.5mm jack. Means that less to none interference should affect their performance.
  • Dual Crystal Oscillatiors. This we’ve already seen in AP100 model. It significantly reduces jitter and positively influences natural sound reproduction.
  • DSD and DXD formats support. Very important now, when much music starts to show up in this formats.
  • Would work as an External DAC with USB or Bluetooth connection to other devices
  • Android operating system with the ability to use preferred apps and special pure music mode to provide the most stable and precise music perfomance in universal OS environment.
  • Bluetooth with AptX support. Which means the ability to listen to loseless tracks with the necessary sound quality wirelessly.
  • Unibody aluminum or stainless steel case. Feels like a very solid constuction with no free play whatsoever.
  • From 32 up to 128GB of memory with additional microSD card slot that accepts up to 256GB cards.
  • 3100mAh battery to last for about 10 hours.

 

Such specifications leave nothing more to desire. I would be able to listen to my favorite music, in my favorite FLAC, DSD or DXD formats with enough memory to fit all the collection… Additionally, I wouldn’t worry about the device reliablity in terms of body construction. Moreover, it would allow me to read books, use stream apps like online radio or even watch a movie if I’d want to… But playing high resolution audio files is the main intent and in the essence of this device!

 

 

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In the box:

The box is great. Covered with transparent thin film from the factory, painted in black color with matt finish. Front logo and model name imprints are glossy and make the right first impression. Back side contains standing out metallic specification text. This is a good way to supply such valuable device…

My unit was shipped along with the quick start guide — the very first thing that we see inside the box, couple of more liners, microUSB type-C to USB cable, one extra screen protector and case protection cover made of semi-transparent plastic. I don’t know whether box contents are subject to change but I appreciate the current set already.

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AP200 rests on its foamy podium inside the box and first that draws the attention is that device screen and back glass cover are secured with special screen protectors applied on the factory.

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The only thing what is left for an owner to do — is to peel of the upper screen potector layer from both glass panels. This is very good to have such protectors applied out of the box because locating protection film of the similar shape in local stores would be almost impossible. At least at the beginning of the sales.

 

 

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Body construction:

As already mentined several times — there would be more than one version of body materials: stainless steel or aliminum with different combination of back side cover — carbon-fiber, glass or rosewood. My version is aluminum with glass, painted in blue or violet — depends from which angle to look…

 

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AP200 feels very solid and comfortable in hands. Even the buttons don’t have any free play and don’t even try to rattle. Case has matt finish with CNC machined vetical pattern. Looks ideal and makes an impression of an expensive device.

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Buttons are not much to talk about — one power ON|OFF (screen ON|OFF) switch at the top, one PLAY|PAUSE button at the right together with a coupled button for VOL UP|DOWN (PREV|NEXT track when double clicked). Right side is completely blank and the bottom side contains all ports and connections: 3.5mm 24K gold plated headphones|linout jack, MicroUSB type-c port for charging and data transfer and microSD card slot. That’s it. Nothing less and nothing more.

 

 

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I wonder how such button/port scheme would affect my habits — I’ve got used to dedicated VOL, FF/REV buttons and separate heaphones|linout jacks on my AP100 model. Hope that the touchscreen experinece would not become a pain for a portable music player.

Initial performace impressions:

Press Power ON button and wait for about 10 seconds of booting into Android 5.1 operating system. Everything looks very familiar here since I use the same OS on my smartphones. Google Play Store is preinstalled. Quickly connecting Wi-Fi to the chosen network and I am ready to go with my favorite apps like TuneIn Radio, Youtube and so on.

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Despite having only 1GB RAM AP200 feels pretty responsive, thanks to almost no other apps preinstalled that would eat up all memory… Default application for music player is Hiby — very capable and respected player for Android OS. But you are not limited to this app while staying in the general OS mode. Consequently, as soon as we would switch AP200 to special PURE MUSIC mode (done by pulling down the notification bar and pressing the corresponding quick settings button) — the device would restrict anything but Hiby app, forwarding all processing power and allowing the shortest audio paths for playing music.

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Couple of words about the screen: it is very good and suitable for such device. 3.54 inch, multitouch, IPS, 960×640 resolution, crisp and clear. It is more than enough to listen to music while watching at the album art or lyrics and totally enough to read books and browse the internet. Touch sensitivity is on a good level — I haven’t noticed any ghost or wrong screen taps while using it.

Besides the screen, the front side has «Hi-Res Audio» logo sticker. This little detail tells us that AP200 has been certified by JAS (Japan Audio Association) and CEA (Consumer Technology Association) and claimed to comply to high resolutions audio device standards.

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And of course, Hidizs has not just taken a «bare» Android OS and thrown it inside AP200… They’ve done a good job of customizing the OS so that it would incorporate all device possibilities and make user experience correspond to its essence — Hi-Def audio performance. This includes various quick setting buttons, additional system settings, preinstalled or|and cleared default apps and so on. As a consequence — the owner would have a device with universal OS capable of many different tasks but preconfigured and intended for perfect audio reproduction.

Final word:

My first impressions are very positive. I like the device, the way it looks and feels. My first couple of hours playing with it were pleasing and I haven’t found anything that would contradict with my own expectations or with device capabilities / features claimed by Hidizs.

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All further tests are yet to be conducted. I am planning to spend many hours with AP200 and my beloved Yamaha RH5Ma studio headphones, as well as with Edifier R1100 PC stereo system. Additionally, I plan to visit one of the largest professional local music store — JAM.UA — to conduct some inevitable hardware testing to compare AP100 & AP200 performance + to confirm some claimed specifications 🙂 I would publish my findings and finalize this review as soon as all tests would be accomplished. I think that it would take me about 1-2 weeks from now.

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One reminder here: if you are interested in getting the least possible price for Hidizs AP200 now (when KickStarter campaign is over) — you can become a backer of Hidizs campaign on Indiegogo.

Part 2. Sound check… 

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Two weeks passed since we’ve unboxed Hidizs AP200 player and it is time to share our opinion about the sound quality together with the results of a couple of technical tests that were conducted couple of days ago.

Technical tests:

In order to provide the most interesting test — we have visited the largest Ukrainian professional music store — JAM.UA (exclusive distributor of Yamaha, ESP, PRS, Kort and many other brands in our country).

We’ve met with Igor Kravcov there — he is one of the leading engineers in service section, mostly dealing with servicing and testing audio equipment. He agreed to help us with our quest and evaluate Hidizs AP100 & AP200 players AFR (amplitude-frequency response) using M-Audio Audiophile Sound Card & SpectraLAB software.

What we were up to is to get AFR from both players using sinusoidal and pink noise signals and compare them against each other. The best result in such test would be to acquire straight line through the whole frequency response range while playing pure sinus signal and see the similar behavior of two players when «human natural» sinus is played.

Note: our ears would naturally accept more lows and mids than highs even if they are played with the same amount of volume. «Pure sinus» signal is formed to compensate this decay of high frequencies to represent the starigt line on the graph. «Human natural» or «perceived» sinus is formed to reflect the natural hearing abilities of a human ear (volume decay at higher frequencies).

Why pure sinus straight line or perceived sinus similar bahavior line with a decay at high frequencies of both players are so important to us: this lines would tell us whether AP100 and AP200 are capable of producing all frequency response range evenly which results in precise, balanced and «analytical» sound with no additional tuning from the factory. Such audio source would have minimum to none influence on the recorded audio. EQ was turned OFF in both players, of course.

First, let’s check the previous AFR tests of AP100 conducted by the Reference Audio Analyzer Lab:

ap100raa

Edge decay at 20kHZ can be omitted due to high frequency interference error.

As seen from the picture — pure sinus signal with AP100 AFR results in a straight line throgh all frequency response range.

Our test of AP100 to check if we get the same result:

ap100_f

AFR decay of <30Hz can be omitted due to measure start lag.

So, as obvious — red line represents pure sinus which is a straight line through all frequency response range, light blue line represents natural or perceived sinus and yellow represents natural or perceived noise…

Now we know that our tests and RAAL tests of AP100 AFR have the same results — straight line along all frequency range. As many users already know or heard — Hidizs AP100 is usually called «a player with balanced and analytical sound with no peaks or roll offs aty any frequency». Our tests reflect such meaning.

Now, let’s see the results for Hidizs AP200:

ap200f

AFR decay of <30Hz can be omitted due to measure start lag.

Again, red line represents pure sinus which is a straight line through all frequency response range, violet line represents natural or perceived sinus and orange represents natural or perceived noise…

From this graph we can tell that AP200 is capable of reproducing all frequencies evenly. Thus, it has the same balanced and analytical sound characteristics of AP100.

AP100 & AP200 results (natural or perceived sinus and noise only):

both

AFR decay of <30Hz can be omitted due to measure start lag.

Violet line represents natural sinus of AP200, light blue — AP100. Yellow line is natural noise for AP200 and red — for AP100.

Seems that sinus is equal for both players. Which means that they have similar balanced and natural sound throughout all frequency range… No coloring, all response range is even. Great source for any type of final audio reproduction gear — headphones, speakers, etc. The rest of the sound coloring can be done using EQ to your own liking.

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Personal opinion about the sound quality:

I’ve spent about 10 hours now listening to Hidizs AP100 & AP200 players with my Yamaha RH-5Ma and Audio-Technica M20x headphones trying to find the difference in sound reproduction. Personally, I’ve found that AP200 is more capable of defining a bit wider stage with a bit more resolution on human voices and midbass and a bit less bright top octave. Midbass overtones are more obvious and top octave is a bit less sparkling but totally enough and well controlled to avoid unpleasant «hisses» that I’ve rarely heard with my AP100 when used with very bright and sparkling Yamaha RH-5Ma. On the other hand, using Audio-Technica M20x would force me to use EQ in both players and increase upper-highs to top octave a bit and slightly decrease low bass. M20x are closed type studio headphones pretuned for excellent resolution and reproduction of low frequencies which results in such EQ tuning. But their stage reproduction is wider, even despite their closed type. Some audio material player through AP200 with Audio-Technica 20Mx would obviously show longer distance of vertical and horizontal instrument separation. Let’s say, this is the first player which showed me how wide the stage on the recording could be and how far each instrument can be placed on any axis. Very good and new sound experience.

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Conclusion:

Despite some minor flaws in firmware (which should be eliminated with the upcoming FW version according to Hidizs latest replies) I fell in love with Hidizs AP200. I am not really considering all other possibilities like using Adnroid OS for youtube or radio on this player (BTW — Hidizs replied that ESS DACs are always ON, no matter the running mode or application) — sound quality in pure mode is what interests me the most. And it seems that AP200 is very capable in this aspect, very balanced and perfectly tuned, slightly outperforming its predecessor AP100 in terms of stage width reproduction and resolution in some frequency ranges. Definitely a step ahead which brings audio listening experience to a higher level.

One reminder here: if you are interested in getting the least possible price for Hidizs AP200 now (when KickStarter campaign is over) — you can become a backer of Hidizs campaign on Indiegogo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hidizs AP200 — new flagship high fidelity music player. First look: 2 комментария

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