This week we?re reviewing the Hidizs AP60 portable audio player, an entry-level model with enough functions to stand up to the best in its category. For less than 90?, this DAP can play HD audio files (including DSD) stored on a micro-SD card, a USB flash drive or?thanks to a DAC mode?a computer. It can even be used along with an external USB DAC, a pair of Bluetooth headphones or a Bluetooth speaker.
The Hidizs AP60 DAP is equipped with a 2.4? screen (non-touch) and backlit physical and tactile control buttons. Its connectivity is limited to a 3.5mm mini-jack headphone output and a micro-USB port. The integrated digital-to-analog converter is an Asahi Kasei AK 4452, ensuring the DAP?s compatibility with 24bit/192kHz and DSD. This is paired with a modest headphone amplifier (Maxim Integrated MAX97220A) with an impedance of 2×35 mW into 32 Ohms. In other words, this little DAP is primarily designed to be used with in-ear headphones, as well as with larger headphones with high sensitivity and moderately low impedance (>100 dB and <50 Ohms). The Hidizs AP60 DAP includes a 1000 mAH battery with a continuous runtime of between 10 and 12 hours.
Hidizs AP60: ergonomics
The Hidizs AP60 portable audio player?s screen is very small’only 2.4? measured diagonally?and yet this color screen is capable of displaying the album art integrated into certain audio files. Another point in its favor, the user interface is reasonably intuitive. The 7 backlit touch buttons include previous and next arrows, an enter button, a menu button and a return button. Gapless playback (no silence between tracks) is possible, as is repeating tracks and activating shuffle play. The gain may even be adjusted in order to listen at high volume in high mode. Meanwhile, the Hidizs AP60?s 10-band graphic EQ comes with a selection of presets. It is possible to create playlists (by artist, album, genre, etc.) while browsing the list of audio files (although this type of operation is easier to carry out on a computer).
As for the volume buttons on the DAP?s left side, their function can be changed in order to use them to switch between tracks. The following audio file formats are handled: FLAC, APE, WAV, ALAC, AAC, MP3 and DSF (DSD64).
Hidizs AP60: USB DAC function
Good news, the Hidizs AP60 DAP may be used as an external DAC with any computer. The manufacturer proposes a Windows driver as well as native support for Mac OS and Linux. All that is required is choosing the ?USB DAC? mode in the Settings menu.
Hidizs AP60: External DAC function and USB OTG
Although Hidizs doesn’t talk up this function, the Hidizs AP60 DAP can send audio stream to an external USB DAC for conversion. Thanks to a DSD playback function, DSD files can be either natively handled or embedded in a PCM stream (DoP) for DACs which are only compatible with this mode. More good news, the AP60 provides enough electric current to power an external DAC without using an external power supply, like the Encore mDSD. Let us remind you that this function requires the use of a USB OTG cable (micro-USB Male to USB A Female), or a micro-USB to USB B or A cable, depending on the input format of the external DAC used.
On another positive note, the Hidizs AP60 DAP can play audio files stored on external USB flash drives (FAT32 used for this review). During playback, the user is thus given the choice: play music stored on the inserted micro-SD card, or use an OTG device.
Hidizs AP60: Bluetooth aptX
The Hidizs AP60 DAP features a Bluetooth emitter, allowing the user to listen to music with a pair of Bluetooth headphones or a Bluetooth speaker. Two transmission modes are supported: SBC and aptX. SBC transmission is universal and works with all Bluetooth headphones and Bluetooth speakers. AptX transmission, which offers superior quality, only works with aptX-compatible Bluetooth devices.
It is important to note that Bluetooth transmission quality is exactly the same for a high-res DAP as it is for a smartphone or tablet. The integrated DAC and amplification system are bypassed. Data is simply conveyed, although this data is compressed and thus lower in quality than any FLAC or DSD files which are stored on the DAP.
Hidizs AP60: test conditions
We tested the Hidizs AP60 portable audio player with the 1.05 beta version of its firmware, which came preinstalled on our test model and is the latest version available. We used a pair of Meze 99 Classics headphones to listen to FLAC and DSD audio files stored on a micro-SD card, USB flash drive, and on a computer running Linux Mint in DAC mode (bitperfect output with an MPD module or traditional audio mixer).
Hidizs AP60: listening impressions
The Hidizs AP60 DAP offers a dynamic listening experience across the entire audio spectrum, with a slightly limited extension in the infrabass, which is compensated for by a tight upper bass register. The overall articulation is consistently good, and there is a lot of detail in the mids along with an interesting sense of depth both at modest volume and at high volume. While the soundstage is not as wide as what more refined DAPs can offer, the listening experience is nonetheless gratifying in all circumstances and with all types of music. Long listening sessions never became tiring.
Hidizs AP60: conclusions
What we liked: the DAC mode for use with a computer, the USB output ensuring compatibility with an external DAC, the DAP?s ability to play files stored on a USB flash drive, the outstanding musicality for a model at this price.
What we would have liked: A screen with a better viewing angle.
For less than 90?, the Hidizs AP60 player is a true bargain. In addition to ensuring playback for Hi-Res Audio and DSD files, it boasts the ability to transform itself into an external DAC for use with any computer and can also serve as a source for an external USB DAC. Above all, this little DAP is highly musical. Its autonomy is very good, with 10 hours of continuous playback in external USB DAC mode. It may be used with a pair of Audio Technica ATH-MSR7, Yamaha EPH-100 or Sennheiser Momentum In Ear headphones without the slightest problem.