Hidizs was founded in 2009 and offers an extensive range of products including DAPs, DAC/Amps and the Mermaid series of IEMs. Beginning with the AP100 and AP200, the brand became more well known when the affordable and compact AP80 DAP was introduced. The Hidizs AP80 Pro X is the latest model in the series, following on from the original AP80 and AP80 Pro. It features an upgraded dual DAC chip, an improved CPU and 2.5mm balanced output.
The Pro X comes in a compact black rectangular box with a glossy image of the DAP on the lid. Removing this reveals the device nestled in a cut-out. Under this are stored the accessories. Product information and specifications are printed on the underside of the box. The box contains:
- AP80 Pro X DAP
- Double ended USB-C cable
- USB Type A to Type C cable
- Screen protectors (front and back)
Design and Build
The Pro X is extremely compact, measuring 61.2 x 54.5 x 13.8mm. Crafted from CNC milled aluminium and glass, it is very well made, feeling solid in the hand. The whole of the front of the unit is occupied by the touchscreen.
On the bottom edge you will find the USB type C port and headphone sockets for 3.5mm single ended and 2.5mm balanced output, and on the right hand side there are physical buttons for play/pause, next track and previous track plus a knurled potentiometer wheel which acts as the volume control and power button.
The left hand side features the micro SD card slot with a maximum capacity of 512Gb. The rear of the case is covered with glass and features a diagonal pattern with Hidizs branding and product details.
The touchscreen, made by Samsung, measures 2.45 inches and has a resolution of 480 x 360. It is responsive and clear. Due to the small size, some text is very small but this can be adjusted in the settings menu. It is bright enough to be fully usable in sunny conditions.
The User Interface
The Pro X employs the HiBy OS. The system is intuitive using simple gestures, swiping right to go forward and swiping left to go back. Volume is controlled by swiping up and down. The home page has a simple selection of four icons for the various functions which include “Player”, “Step” which is a pedometer, “Bluetooth” and “Book”, an e-book reader. Swipe right from this page and system settings are available.
Once in the player mode there are icons for music categories. You can search for All tracks, Files, Albums, Artists, Genres, Format, Favourites, Recents and Playlists. Tapping a Hidizs logo icon gives access to music settings and the MSEB EQ featuring 10 different functions. The physical buttons include the normal play/pause, previous and next track selection, but it would have been nice to have a back button as well.
The Hidizs AP80 Pro-X features dual ES9219C DAC chips. This is the same configuration as the Shanling M3X and Hiby R3 Pro Saber and is an upgrade from the ES9218 unit used in the previous AP80 Pro model. MQA decoding has also been upgraded from 4x to 8x. Bluetooth version 4.2 is installed and includes high quality AAC, apt-x and LDAC codecs.
Because of its compact dimensions, the Pro-X has a small battery. It is rated at 3.7v and 800mAh. However, due to the implementation of power-saving circuitry, a play time of 11 hours is available when using the single ended output. This reduces to 6 hours when using the balanced output. A standby time of 40 days and a value of 5v/2A for charging is specified.
The AP80 Pro X produced a neutral profile with excellent dynamics. The lack of colouration allowed the IEMs used to reveal their intrinsic character and pleasing results were obtained with a variety of earphones. The KZ AST, Tin Hifi T3 and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Hidizs’s own MD4, all impressed.
There was plenty of power available to drive even power-hungry IEMs such as the KBEAR Believe to high volume levels without the need for additional amplification. The majority of the testing was done with the Hidizs MP4 via 3.5mm and the KBEAR Believe, using a TRI Grace-S 2.5mm balanced cable.
The Pro X possessed a deep, weighty and very well textured bass with excellent speed, timbre and extension. Sub bass was well rendered. In space music maestro Jonn Serrie’s “The flow of Time’s Arrow” from “Thousand Star” the depth and power of the bass was very impressive, providing a perfect foundation for the swirling electronic effects and stately melody. Mid bass, too, had a satisfying impact and warmth, the bass guitar and drums in Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat” being well separated with clarity and a natural timbre.
The Pro X also excelled in the midrange with a notable openness full of subtle details. Paul Desmond’s wonderful sax solo in the Dave Brubeck Trio’s seminal “Take Five” was full of character and atmosphere, allowing the playing to be appreciated. Accompanied by Brubeck’s piano and the amazing percussion work of Joe Morello, the whole piece gelled together perfectly with a real natural and “live” feel.
Vocals also benefited from the clarity and timbre of the midrange. Linda Ronstadt’s pure voice retained all its expression and emotion in “Lo siento mi Vida,” from the album “Hasten down the Wind”. Accompanied by delicate acoustic guitar, steel guitar and bass, her voice shone through supported by beautifully separated backing vocals.
The AP80 Pro X displayed a well-extended treble response with no discernible harshness and replete with detail. Speed and attack were the keynotes here with an attractive immediacy which drove the music on in great style. A good example of this was in “Man Free” from “Dread Beat an’ Blood” by Linton Kwesi Johnson.
Sly Dunbar’s incisive percussion work was remarkable, cutting through the mix effectively and making the most of the infectious reggae beats. The hi-hats were particularly impressive here. Charles Ives’s “The Unanswered Question” begins with serene sustained strings. A lone trumpet announces the theme and soon disturbing woodwind tone clusters join in.
The various tonalities in this classic recording by the NYPO under Leonard Bernstein were beautifully rendered by the Pro X with the requisite aggression, bite and impact, producing a wonderful contrast to the calm string accompaniment.
The Pro X’s soundstage was wide, deep and airy and even more so when run through the balanced output. Imaging, layering and separation were all of a high standard. Of course this did vary with the IEM used but there was a good degree of consistency with each earphone and it was simple to follow individual strands in a production.
In “I Robot” from the album of the same name by the Alan Parsons Project, the many different layers were well defined with a wide stereo image so that the interplay between the different elements could be easily discerned. Ravel’s “Alborada del Gracioso” is a colourful and dramatic transcription of a piano piece.
In the version by the Minnesota Orchestra under Eiji Oue, the Pro X presented a spacious picture of the orchestra. Each section was clearly positioned and the sense of depth was very well depicted. The ambience of the recording venue was realised effectively with a natural decay.
The AP80 Pro X is equipped with Bluetooth version 4.2 and includes LDAC, apt-x and AAC codecs for high quality streaming. The AP80 Pro X was tested with Mifo 05 wireless earbuds, a Ruark R3 radio and an Amp acoustics X7 Bluetooth speaker.
Connection was quick and seamless in all cases. The performance with the X7 speaker was especially impressive with apt-x, with a delicate and detailed top end, open midrange and satisfying bass. Although only equipped with Bluetooth 4.2 rather than the latest 5.0, the sound was very good with both SBC and especially apt-x.
Xduoo X20 ($243)
The X20 has been my regular player for a while now. Like the Pro X, it features 3.5mm single ended and 2.5mm balanced outputs and physical buttons for navigation. However, it does not have a touchscreen. It is solidly built with a 2″ x 1.5″ screen and a resolution of 220 x 176. The DAC is the ESS9018K2M.
The OS is designed by HiBy and is fairly intuitive to use. The X20 has a near-flat response with excellent resolution and the overall tonality is accurate with just a touch of coldness. The AP80 Pro X sounds more dynamic and engaging. There is a sense that a fine veil has been removed resulting in a “live” quality to the reproduction. The X20, though accomplished, is more measured in its presentation and could benefit from just a little more urgency in its character.
Hifi Walker H2 ($125)
The H2 is a compact, well built DAP with a zinc alloy chassis and a 2.0 inch 320×240 TFT display.
Inside there is a Texas Instruments Burr Brown PCM5102 DAC and Rockchip Nano D Dual core micro controller. The battery is rated 1300mAh/3.7v. The generous bundle includes a 16Gb micro sd card and Hifi Walker A2 earphones.
The HiBy OS is similar to that of the Xduoo X20, but is simpler to use because of the scroll wheel which the X20 lacks. The scroll wheel controls Play/Pause, Next, Previous, and Volume. There are also physical buttons for volume, track navigation, a back button and an option button giving access to various other functions.
In use, the H2 delivers a warm, relaxed sound profile with a deceptively high level of detail. It is not as dynamic as the AP80 Pro X nor as neutral as the X20, but is eminently suitable for long-term listening. Overall, though a competent player at the price, the H2 cannot match the Pro X’s resolution and realism which is on another level.
With a palm-sized form factor and armed with a high quality ESS Sabre DAC, 2.5mm balanced output and packed with features, the AP80 Pro X really delivers the goods. Its commendable technical abilities, coupled with an engaging musicality and resolving, dynamic and transparent sound make it a joy to hear.
Pair it with a high quality set of IEMs and feed it with some Hi-Res files and you have the perfect compact audiophile system when you’re on the move.
Hidizs AP80 Pro X Specifications
System: HiBy OS
Screen: Samsung 2.45 inches 480 x 360
CPU: Ingenic x1000
DAC chip: ESS SABRE E9219C x2
Hi-Res Audio: Native DSD 64/128/256
MQA Support 8x
Battery: 800mAh 3.7v Li-polymer
Outputs. 3.5mm jack Single Ended & 2.5mm Balanced