AP80 Pro Review - MARKETCHANGERS
Hidizs AP80Pro — the ultimate upgrade
marketchangers | August 27, 2020
(Please click here for the Russian version)
For the last few years I’ve been observing how Hidizs has developed from a small domestic single-product company to the international and respected portable HiFi gear brand. My experience covers each single piece of their audio technology: AP100, AP200, AP60, AP60Pro, AP80 DAPs, all IEMs, cable DAC converters, stand alone DAC, etc. Can’t state that all of those had flawless performance but none has fallen short of expectations in terms of audio quality. Still love my old AP100 and still use AP80 as the most convenient one. Furthermore, Hidizs was the first to utilize HiBy OS with its excellent HiBy link option which has become a golden standard for various current DAPs from other brands.
Today I woud like to review their latest incarnation of very popular AP80 DAP — AP80Pro. There were couple of revisions of AP80 in the past, mostly dedicated to physical user experience, but AP80Pro is a huge leap of completely different nature — Pro version brings balanced circuit with the additional 2.5mm audio output and more power to drive higher loads…
Going through new specs it is clear that the main change between AP80 and its successor is in the balanced output section. What pleases me the most is that rated power with the new output has grown up to 190mW per channel. It is enough to drive high impedance / low sensitivity head gear which was my only concern about the initial release of AP80 in comparison to more powerful DAPs.
It also happens so that I currently have both versions of this player and would be able to compare their musical and functional performance with similar IEMs.
Packaging and design:
No much changes here. Very similar cute matt black box with silver logo and specification imprints. Some minor changes to the previous version in size (it got a bit smaller) and shape but the insides are similarly well protected and neatly packed.
First goes soft podium that holds AP80Pro, the rest of accessories in their boxes rest underneath. Here you would find:
AP80Pro DAP with front and back screen guards preapplied
USB type-C -> USB A cable
USB type-C -> microUSB cable
2 additional front and back screen guarding film
couple of leaflets
short user manual
Silicon case quality became better this time. All button openings and edges are cut more precisely and look more neat. Hoped that screen guards would also become more precise, but unfortunately not. It still physically exceeds the screen, making film guard easy to get peeled off accidentally.
More significant changes found in AP80Pro housing compared to its predecessor: design got more complicated and definitely consumes more CNC machine time. Side edges became curved, new shape around volume knob makes it easier for access.
I would say that AP80Pro design has matured, changing from simple straight lines to curved elegant look. The rest of its virtues remained the same — beautifully looking back covered with glass, intuitive volume knob with a good grip and shiny flange, comfortable physical buttons with tangible clicks. Although, still small amount of free play at volume knob is available.
Physical size gained couple of millimeters in one dimension, making new DAP version little bit wider. This change is caused by the new design of the side edges. Thickness and weight has not changed.
Screen size and performance didn’t change at all. It is the same 2.45″ IPS touchscreen with more than enough resolution and sensitivity for this type of a product.
The only difference that I’ve spotted is that the new screen has slightly warmer initial calibration compared to AP80. It behaves perfectly, has wide viewing angles and enough brightness to interact with it outside.
The only new element which is 2.5mm balanced output is located at the bottom edge, left to USB type-C port. The location of other elements has not changed.
Performance and UI:
AP80Pro is based on HiBy OS 3.0 and Ingenic X1000 CPU. This combination stays unchanged since the initial release of AP80 DAP and still demonstrates smooth behavior of the user interface. First scan is very fast even with 128GB cards full of different format tracks, all operations are quite snappy.
Seen couple of interface freezes when scrolling through large list of songs but 99% of other interactions are naturally responsive. Haven’t spotted any FW glitches with the latest 1.1 OS version, neither found any severe bugs or translation errors among function list. If you are using any smarpthones based on iOS or Android — you’d feel like being home. Each feature or program is represented by a separate icon.
All general device and audio settings are gathered in Settings Menu, whereas all deep and more precise audio preferences like EQ and filters are located only in HiBy Music application. By the way, HiBy Music looks very similar to its versions for other platforms. No surprises here. It also features such function as HiBy Link that allows you to control this DAP from a smartphone.