Perhaps, the best incarnation of entry-level HiRes DAP from Hidizs — AP60Pro. Based on AP60 initial model, current version of this extra-portable player extends all pros of the previous revisions and incorporates more advanced digital to analog converter chip! Hidizs has done a great job on following customer demands with AP60 and finally released the ultimate version for the segment.
As a reminder, there were two previous versions of AP60 DAP — initial AP60 based on AKM AK4452VN DAC and MAX97220A amplifier with a simplified case materials and touch pad for controls. Followed by AP60II — a revised version with the same element base, better screen, CNC aluminum case and mechanical buttons. This model was reviewed by us half a year ago and stayed our favorite since than, thanks to its portability and very good audio performance. You can read our AP60II review here: LINK
We would recommend to read through AP60II review because this material would be mainly based on our previous text and conclusions and further comparison between two models.
Despite AP60II great performance to price ratio, some rumorses about another revision started to appear on different forums short after its initial release. Finally, the project of AP60Pro was launched on a Massdrop platform by Hidizs. New model — AP60Pro — was promissed to have pro-level DAC chip and amp that was addressed to eliminate some sound simplification at certain frequencies…
Official Hidizs AP60Pro product page and store: LINK
And here it is — the new and ultimate version of an affordable HiRes DAP — Hidizs AP60Pro. Besides, concerning its new element base we cannot call it «entry-level» anymore. It resembles the best sides of the previous model and shifts its audio quality to a higher level common for more expensive products like AP200 since it utilizes the same DAC chip. But we shall see the difference…
Technical Specifications (compared to AP60II):
Cells filled with green represent the upgrades introduced in AP60Pro. Unfortunately, there is not much of information about the new amplifier which is a part of ESS SoC but the fact that the current DAC chip is shared with a flagship Hidizs AP200 DAP is at least promissing…
Looking at the final specifications some differences in declared values are obvious. Up to 32bit/384kHz while using this player as extrenal USB DAC, more output power, more frequency response range, etc. The most important for us is the extended frequency response and a bit more output power. Those two improvements should eliminate all cons of the previous model. We’ll check…
AP60Pro box has been revised as well. Hidizs unified the design and instead of tall old box it now doesn’t look strange among all other Hidizs products. New box is matt black, with metallic imprints of company logo and technical specifications.
Box contents left unchanged: AP60Pro comes with pre-applied screen protector, 2 extra glass protection stickers, semi-transparent body protection case made of plastic, couple of leaflets and USB A->microUSB cable.
Protection case is very useful indeed. It does a great job of keeping back glass and sides free of scratches and doesn’t prevent from comfortable hadnling and operation.
Design and materials:
AP60II, as well as AP60Pro, shares the same CNC aluminum-alloy body with curved glass panel covering back side, 2″ screen at front and very convenient physical controls underneath. Such configuration leaves nothing more to be desired, thus left unchanged by Hidizs.
2″ TFT screen with the resolution of 320×240 is totally enough for comfortbale use of AP60Pro. Viewing angels are not the best for a screen but you wouldn’t read books with this player anyway. Full brigtness is enough to keep this screen readable outside.
Control elements underneath the screen are represented by single pivot plastic plate with 4 sections: next track (long press — seek), previous track (long press — seek), back (long press — menu), enter (play).
Left control elements consist of volume control button (can be set to switch tracks) and power ON|OFF (screen ON|OFF) button. Volume can be controlled without waking up the screen.
MicroSD card slot is located on the right side. It would accept up to 256GB cards, UHS would also do.
3.5mm gold-plated stereo headphone output and microUSB port for charging, file transfer and USB DAC function are located at the bottom.
AP60II and AP60Pro feel very solid in hand. No rattling and no free play of any element. Build quality is excellent. All elemets are perfectly crafted and aligned together.
Audio quality (compared to AP60II):
First of all, we’ve spent a lot of hours listening to AP60II since the time it was released what makes us sensitive to any changes in sound compared to a new rival. Therefore, our final word would be based on the comparison between the two.
Headphones used for this test: Audio-Technica ATH-M50.
Right from the start we have noticed that ESS DAC untilized by AP60Pro really extends capability of this player to resolve higher frequencies. We get crisp and clear tiny sounds where AP60II suffers from «hisses». But not only that — sound got a bit more bright and sonant in overall. AP60II seems to be a bit more muted, especially on lows and mids. The difference that we have mentioned would become most obvious for those who had some experience with the previous model.
In terms of power output — both DAPs are capable enough to drive 48Ohms load of ATH-M50 studio monitor headphones with enough dynamics for midbass and with just a fraction of sound degradation at volumes above 75 (out of 80). AP60Pro might have more driving potential concerning 10mW advantage, especially at higher volumes and with heavier loads.
We have also tried to use both players as USB DACs. Good news are that both feature almost non-existent audio lag and fit this usage scenario perfectly. Although, if you were able to find some, AP60Pro can eat up to 32bit/384kHz audio material.
Therefore, our conclusion is that AP60Pro does outperform previous AP60II model in three aspects in terms of sound quality:
- Better resolution of higher frequencies, which is logical and expected (20H-40KHz in AP60Pro V/S 20H-20Khz in AP60II)
- Sound is bit more bright
- Better external USB DAC specifications (32bit|384kHz in AP60Pro V/S 24bit|192kHz in AP60II)
FW and interface:
Both players are based on simple, fast, easy to operate HibyOS. This OS is free of bugs (maybe only one… 🙂 ) and perfect for such products. Bootup time is very short, lots of additional functions, EQ, gapless playback, RTC screen, covers, etc. We wouldn’t mind if HibyOS for AP60 series would show more information about track on playing now screen but this is not so important. The most important is that it handles many audio formats, shows no bugs and lasts for more than 10 hours from a single charge…
By the way, HibyLink is present — very good function to control DAP from a smartphone over Bluetooth.
MENU logics stayed the same:
- MENU consists of:
Music browse — browsing though music based on drives and folders
Music category — browsing music through categories and playlists
- DSD control
- Play mode
- Gapless play
- Max volume
- Startup volume
- USB mode
- Backlight time
- Folder skip
- Volume key mode
- Power saving timer
- Format card
- System update
2. Playing now — cover photo with file name and audio source information
3. Screen lock — time, playing now, current volume and battery information
4. Options screen — quick functions like gain, play modes, song playlist features and delete files.
note: those images are not screenshot files. Captured with camera. Looks awfull due to camera moire and high resolution.
Despite that AP60II and AP60Pro share the same HibyOS, firmware versions are different: 1.12beta for AP60II and 1.02beta for AP60Pro. Both can be downloaded from Hidizs support page. Upgrade process is easy:
- download FW
- copy «update.upt» to root of SDcard
- Go to SYSTEM SETTINGS->SYSTEM UPDATE->OK
- wait until it finishes and player reboots
Drivers for USB DAC function for AP60 series of DAPs can be found on the same download page. Keep in mind that if you would like to have the best possible MUSIC quality — you would have to use the provided TUSBAudio ASIO driver. In this case — you’d be able to pass the stream from compatible music playing software like Foobar2000 over ASIO. At the same time, it might happen so that you would not be able to hear any system sounds or other software sounds.
In order to hear all sounds and pass the stream from Foobar2000 over Wasapi — the drivers are not needed. Just set USB to DAC and connect AP60Pro to PC — it would recognize it as USB DAC and you’d be able to select it among other audio devices and the main output.
Hidizs AP60II is a great extra-portable entry-level HiRes DAP with very good audio quality, lots of functions and sold at just a right price. Hidizs AP60Pro represents the next generation with the same features as well as improved sound in terms of resolution at higher frequencies and better USB DAC capabilities.
Do such changes worth another $10-30? If you search for the ultimate version of HiRes DAP in the price segment below $130 — yes — AP60Pro is a better performer. If you are very tight on a budget and $100 is your final word — AP60II would be a perfect match with great audio quality to price ratio. Whichever you choose — both sound very good, perfectly crafted, worth every cent!
Official Hidizs AP60Pro product page and store: LINK