Review: The Hidizs AP60 – Body

Memory

The Hidizs AP60 is a high resolution entry level DAP and for only $89 some sacrifices had to be made. The AP60 doesn’t come with any internal available memory and it features only one Micro-SD slot. As a result you might not be able to carry your full library with you on just one card but in this range that is all very normal. The AP60 does allow connecting an external disk drive by USB to the player, so if you don’t care about carrying around an extra unit, you’ll have all the music you’ll need. I haven’t tested that myself though. The AP60 doesn’t directly connect to your network storage systems either and it doesn’t allow you to install 3rd party software such as Tidal or Spotify. There is a workaround to this however as you can stream Tidal or anything you want over BT from your phone but more on that later on in this article. (The AP60 basically can be connected by BlueTooth to serve as a DAC/AMP for your other units).

Scanning the MicroSD card goes reasonably fast and going through a 200gb card doesn’t takes dozens of minutes like on the DX80 or the Fiio X5iii using the Fiio music player.

Battery

The Hidizs is tiny so I didn’t really expect it to score big on battery life. Hidizs equipped the AP60 with a small 1000mAh LiCoO2 battery but it on paper does manage get 10 to 12h of airtime and that’s a lot. The Cayin N3 with its 2500mA manages to do about the same so that’s a very good result. I have to say I am pleasantly surprised with the Hidizs’s battery life and I was able to use it for a very long time without charging it again. Battery life of course does depend on the use of Bluetooth, Screen Brightness, file types played, etc. All in all I am very happy with the battery life the AP60 offers as it for sure is above my 8h minimum limit by quite the stretch.

Internals

Just like the Cayin N3 the Hidizs is a Linux based DAP. The DAC chip used is the AKM4452vn and the amplifier chip is the MAX97220A. Like the Cayin it uses the X1000 CPU chip. The chip supports DSD64/128 and plays all of the common file types: FLAC, APE,  WMA, WAV, ALAC, AAC, OGG, MP3, AIFF, DSF, DIFF.

The Hidizs AP60 comes packed with BlueTooth 4.0 apt-X but it doesn’t offer a Wifi connection, as a result the firmware updates will have to be done manually by copying it to the unit.

Accessories

For $89 you can’t expect a lot but at the same time I was a bit disappointed to not get any extra screen protectors or even a silicone case. On the other hand I was pleasantly surprised to see the AP60 comes delivered with an entry level earbud. The accessories are:

  • AP60 music player
  • USB cable
  • Earbud
  • Earphone Carry bag

If I was working for Hidizs I would have suggested adding a case instead of the earbuds as probably no one ever is going to use them, but again, for the price, it’s perfectly acceptable there is no case. It would have been a very nice extra though.

Versatility

Like the Cayin N3, the Hidizs AP60 is a lot more than just a little entry DAP and it can be in so many different ways. This is one of the reasons why the AP60 is such a great little player. First of all it is a DAP and like all DAPs nowadays you can hook it up to your pc by using a simple USB-cable. The AP60 will then serve as external storage or as a USB DAC. In windows some drivers need to be installed and I have to say it took me quite a while to get the AP60 going in both Windows 7 as windows 10. You can download the driver from the Hidizs website right here but you actually might be using the driver already for one of your other DACs such as one from Fiio. After one hour of cursing at myself I did manage to get it working, so I’m sure you will get it done too.

If you want the Hidizs AP60 to put out a digital signal you will have to use the micro-USB output. With a simple and cheap USB OTG cable you can use the AP60’s output to transfer a digital to another DAC (such as the Mojo). A lot of people- myself included – have been using the AP60 with the Chord Electronics Mojo and the combo sounds really good. Unlike with the N3 there are no digital filters you can select but you can choose DoP or D2P dor DSD output. If that still isn’t enough, you can connect the AP60 to another device by BT and it will let the AP60 serve as a DAC/Amp unit. I’ve been using it like that with my Samsung S6 phone, where I stream Tidal over BT from the phone. Just connect both devices by BT, launch Tidal on your phone and you’ll have all the music you need, straight from the AP60. I never use my phone itself for listening to music to, so for me this is a perfect solution. The only downside to this solution is that you will still need to control Tidal on your phone. Unlike the Cayin N3, the Hidizs AP60 doesn’t take over the controls. A missed opportunity imho.

User Interface

Booting up the AP60 takes only a few seconds and it very quickly is “good to go” on Firmware 1.0.5Beta_BT. Once you’re playing a track the screen will show you the band, album, track, file type, bit rate/depth, battery level, play mode and volume level. Of course the N3 displays the album art and lyrics when available. Next to that the screen will show you the position of the track, and the remaining time of the track. What I don’t like about the AP60 is the fact that you can’t fast forward when playing tracks using the side buttons, you’ll have to do that using the up and down buttons on the touch screen. The side buttons which normally serve to set the volume can be set as Previous/next buttons when the screen is blacked out. A long push on the “back” button will take you back to the main menu.

The main menu has four options:

Music Browse / Music Category / System Setting / Music Setting

The system settings menu offers the following: Language / USB mode / Backlight time / Brightness / Folder Skip / Volume Keys Definition / Power Saving Shutdown / Power Saving Shutdown Time / Scheduled power off / Scheduled Power Off Timer / Bluetooth / Format TF Card / Reset / System Update / About.

The Music settings are: Music Scan / Gain Setting / DSD Output / EQ / Play Mode / Breakpoint Resume / Gapless / Max Volume / Startup Volume / Set Startup Volume / Balance. The EQ menu will take you to a 10-band EQ menu where you can either choose between a bunch of preconfigured settings or you can set a custom one yourself.

The Music Browse menu option takes you to a screen where you select the TF Card or OTG as source and which lets you browse by folders. The Music Category menu shows the following options: Song / Album / Artist / Genre / My Favourite / M3UList / Recent played songs.

Once you’ve done your settings it is extremely easy to operate the Hidizs AP60. The menus and options are very clear and even if it’s your first DAP you won’t have any issues using the player. When you’re in the now playing screen you can also push the touch button on the top left of the front panel which will make the quick menu appear.

So far the player hasn’t hung up on me a single time and there are only a couple of things I can complain about. It doesn’t seem to be able to show certain special characters like “é” on the screen and the selection of songs in shuffle mode is not random enough. Unlike with the i5 and a lot of other DAPs, it isn’t possible to read out the full tag of the song you’re playing. If you’re used to working with swiping Android DAPs such as the Fiio X7 or the Cayin i5 you will miss a lot of swiping functions and looking at it like that, the AP60 is back to basics like in the good old days. The thing I miss most is a search function but I didn’t expect a DAP in this range to have one either.

When the player is in your pocket it is also very easy to use without looking at it, using the side buttons of the player. I would have loved to have separate volume buttons though, together with fast forwarding when in screen lock mode.

Overall I am very happy with how the AP60 handles. There still are some points where it can be improved like the playlists and library management– check out the Head-Fi thread for all the details – but in general it’s all logic and well implemented. I like working with the UI of the AP60 over that of the N3 but the latter one, button-wise, is the most handy one.

Again, firmware updates are done by copying the update file in the root directory of the TF Card and by selecting update in the menu. As there is no Wifi, there are no OTA updates, logic. The update itself is very quick though.

AP60’s SOUND and more on page 3 after the CLICK

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Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

8 Comments

  • Reply April 18, 2017

    Joe

    Besides the Chord Mojo what would another portable Dac/amp be used with this as a transport. I’m a student so the Mojo is out of my price range is there any good Dac/amp that it is worth getting over just spending more and getting a better Dap ($300 for a dap instead of $90 for the AP60 and $200 for and Dac/amp)?

  • Reply April 18, 2017

    Lieven

    Have you checked out my freshly updated amp/dac combo? 🙂

    • Reply April 18, 2017

      Joe

      Thanks for the quick response. Yes I have read the buyers guide, but the only one in my budget ($200) is the dragonfly red, and while I have read that it’s very nice, I didn’t know wether you had any other recommendations for Dac/amps and if I would be better off buying a more expensive DAP such as an A&K Junior instead of buying the ap60 and a Dac/amp to use along with it. Sorry if my questions are confusing but I am relatively new to the portable audio scene, I have only used my phone and iPods in the past, but would like to upgrade.

      • Reply April 19, 2017

        dale thorn

        The DragonFly Red is a HUGE upgrade for your phone. Since you’re new to this, give it a couple of years and then think about upgrading. Don’t forget that the noise floor is much lower at home than on the go, so home is where you’ll appreciate a better DAC eventually.

  • Reply May 11, 2017

    Igor

    Hello, friends.
    Can I control the output volume when connecting to Hidizs an external dac via USB?

  • Reply July 15, 2017

    Ahil Mohan

    Such a shame that a product would omit a feature as useful as basic remote control for apps such as Tidal/Spotify. Kind of defeats the purpose if you need to pull your phone out

  • Reply August 8, 2017

    Booker

    Thanks for the review Lieven. I’m looking for a source unit to pair with the Mojo, and I’m tossing up between the HP60 and the cayin N3.

    One question: can you apply EQ to the outgoing digital signal from the HP60? I find the mojo sounds great, but is slightly weaker on bass than I’d like, so a source transport that can increase the bass is what I’m really looking for.

  • Reply September 5, 2017

    Alex

    Hello.can only buy either the ap60 or the n3 I like my music smooth,at the moment I am using a sansa clip.like the sound of this but it is getting long in the tooth and would like to replace it.I use it with monk phones and listen to new age instrumental music is liquid mind. Does these players come with resume. Thanks

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