Best Entry Level DAP:- Comparison Between HiBy R3 Pro, Hidizs AP80 Pro, Shanling Q1!!!
During the past few weeks, we have seen new and updated products in the digital audio player department. Shanling Released its Shanling Q1, Hiby brought us Hiby R3 Pro, and Hidizs has upgraded its highly acclaimed player and released Hidizs AP80 Pro. These three are some of the best entry-level audio players available in the market now that perform really well and houses many features. But we usually need only a single player, so how to choose between these three? which one provides the best sound quality output among these? and many more questions arise. We have been using and comparing these three players for the past few days, and today we are sharing our thoughts and comparison between them. Before we begin let’s know about the three players first.
Shanling Q1 is the latest entry-level digital audio player from the brand that is equipped with a high-performance DAC chip ESS9218P. It has a retro design and a small form factor. Shanling Q1 can decode PCM up to 32-Bit/384kHz, and DSD up to DSD128 natively. It houses a 2.7” touchscreen and features Mtouch 3.0 OS developed by Shanling. It also features Bi-directional Bluetooth connectivity with LDAC, AptX HD, and more HD codecs. Shanling Q1 comes in multiple colors to choose from and the body is made of high-quality zinc alloy material. The main attraction with Shanling Q1 is its battery life, it can play music continuously for up to 21 hours and has a standby time of up to 25 days. Shanling Q1 is priced at 119$, you can check more details here.
Hidizs AP80 Pro:-
Hidizs released an upgrade to its highly acclaimed budget DAP with the Hidizs AP80 Pro. It is the smallest touch screen digital audio player in the market, don't go on its small size it provides a powerful sound output. The Hidizs AP80 Pro is equipped with a dual DAC setup featuring dual ESS9218P DAC chips. It has two output ports one 3.5mm single-ended port and a fully balanced 2.5mm port. Hidizs AP 80 can decode PCM up to 32-Bit/384kHz, or DSD up to DSD256 natively. It has a 2.45” Samsung touchscreen display with 480x360 resolution. Hidizs AP80 Pro features Hiby 3.0OS. It supports bi-directional Bluetooth V4.2 with UAT codec support. UAT is the latest Bluetooth technology developed by HiBy that can stream files with a 24-Bit/192kHz bitrate over Bluetooth connections. It also supports LDAC, AptX, and more Hi-res Codecs. Hidizs AP80 Pro has a battery life of up to 13 hours on the single-ended port and up to 9 hours on the balanced output port. Hidizs AP80 Pro’s body is made of high-quality Aluminium Alloy and stereoscopic glass back panel. Apart from the music player app it also has steps counter and FM radio. It is priced at 169.99$, you can check more details here.
HiBy R3 Pro:-
HiBy released their upgrade to the widely known player the HiBy R3 with the HiBy R3 Pro late last year. But it sold out as soon as it went live. HiBy has brought back this powerful device last month and it is now available to buy for 199$. It is the only DAP among the three we are discussing today that fully decodes MQA files. MQA stands for Master Quality Authenticated, it is the best audio recording quality, ensuring the best audio quality for the audiophiles. It is equipped with a powerful dual DAC chipset featuring dual CS43131 DAC chips with dual independent crystal oscillators and quality FPGA chips. Just like the Hidizs AP80 Pro, the R3 Pro here houses two output ports, one single-ended 3.5mm, and one fully balanced 2.5mm output ports. The HiBy R3 Pro features HiBy OS, bi-directional Bluetooth V5.0 support with UAT, LDAC, AptX, and many more hi-res codecs. It is the only DAP among the three that supports Tidal and Qobuz streaming via Wi-fi. HiBy R3 Pro is priced at 199$, check more details here.
In terms of build quality, all three DAPs are well built. They all have small form factor with the Hidizs AP80 being the smallest and the HiBy R3 Pro the biggest among the three. The Shanling Q1 is the thickest among them, all three of them are very easy to carry around and use with a single hand. Shanling Q1 has a retro design with zinc alloy chassis and comes in multiple colors. It looks cute and The Shanling Q1 has a retro design with zinc alloy chassis, it looks small and cute. The Hidizs AP80 Pro and HiBy R3 Pro have a more aesthetic and premium looks. The HiBy R3 Pro has gold color plating on the output ports, while the AP80 Pro has simple ports. HiBy R3 Pro features an LED among the buttons on the right side that glows according to the file format like Blue for cd-quality flac's. Hidizs AP80 Pro and HiBy R3 Pro MicroSD card slots are very smooth while the Shanling Q1 card slot is tight. We need to use a needle or other pinpointed things to pull out the card.
Shanling Q1 features Mtouch OS 3.0 developed by Shanling while the Hidizs AP80 Pro and HiBy R3 Pro uses HiBy OS 3.0. The user interface on the players is snappy and quick, there is no lag with playing in them. Though with the Shanling Q1 if we go several folders in it kind of slows down a bit, no such issue with the other two players. We tested multiple files some DSD’s and noticed no lag and smooth operation. Hidizs AP80 Pro and HiBy R3 Pro switches off themselves when music is not playing for some time, but Shanling Q1 doesn’t have any such feature. Hidizs AP80 Pro and HiBy R3 Pro features HiBy designed features, like MSEB Tuner that makes it easy to tune the output according to one’s sound preferences, there is no such feature with the Shanling Q1. Now with recent updates, playback on all three of the players can be controlled via android smartphones.
Shanling Q1 and Hidizs AP80 Pro feature bi-directional Bluetooth V4.2 support and the HiBy R3 Pro features the latest Bluetooth V5.0 connectivity. The Shanling Q1 supports Bluetooth codecs up to LDAC, while the other two features UAT the latest Bluetooth technology developed by HiBy. All three perform very well in the Bluetooth connection range, but the HiBy R3 Pro showed better connection quality and better sound output over Bluetooth. Audio synchronization was just perfect with all three DAPs, we didn’t notice any kind of lag what so ever.
The company claims the battery life of Shanling Q1 up to 21 hours, HiBy R3 Pro up to 20 hours(Single-ended), up to 16 hours(Balanced), and Hidizs AP 80 Pro up to 13 hours(Single-ended), and up to 9 hours(Balanced). They performed about the same, we found HiBy R3 Pro to be actually good, it provides a good battery life with such powerful output.
All the Three DAPs perform really well and gives a good quality sound output. The HiBy R3 Pro sounds exceptionally well among the three, the output via the HiBy R3 Pro sounds deep, fuller, and more lively as compared to the other two DAPs. We are not saying that they give bad output, it's just the HiBy R3 Pro gives an output that sounds more natural and neutral. HiBy R3 pro’s sound output has deep bass, rich with crisp thumps, fuller sub-bass, transparent and lively vocals, and energetic, detailed treble portion. It sounds the best among the three and in our opinion, it is the best DAPs to get at under 199$ followed very closely with the Hidizs AP80 Pro. The main attraction apart from this beautiful sound output with the HiBy R3 Pro over the other two is the ability to stream music on Tidal and Qobuz. Let’s come to Hidizs AP80 Pro now. It produces a decent output with a bit warmness, features powerful thick vocals, and smooth treble details with no harshness, and quick bass portion. The Shanling Q1 sound output sounds neutral and balanced, featuring good bass, natural vocals, and sparky treble section. There is no background noise or hiss with any of the players. You are just provided with good quality sound output, though in terms of details and better output we would order the three as follows:-
HiBy R3 Pro>Hidizs AP80 Pro>Shanling Q1.
Though Shanling Q1 performs below the other two in terms of sound output clarity, it comes at a very less price compared to the other two. As on its own category of around a 100$ price range, the Shanling Q1 outperforms the other players in its price category with a huge margin.
Finally, we must say, it depends on one’s budget now, if they are looking to buy a DAP of around 200$ price range, HiBy R3 Pro is the one to get, It has everything from MQA decoding, good build quality to balanced and powerful output and amazing battery life, and streaming services, But if you are looking for something around a 100$ the Shanling Q1 does its job nicely and won’t disappoint either.