Despite having the makings of a great device, the AP60 didn’t have the greatest reception with many mixed reviews and opinions. But later into its life, and with numerous vital firmware updates, the AP60 has finally realised its potential as a stable, zippy and balanced sounding hyper-portable player. The design is pragmatic with hints of flare and customizability and the build quality is nice for the asking price. The physical controls and software are well thought out and I know many users will appreciate the player’s wide file and apt-x BT support. Of course, the AP60 is not without its shortcomings, but I would argue that the extent of the problems should dictate any rejection of purchase rather than the sheer number of issues and the AP60 is afflicted with mainly minor quibbles.
Off the bat, the capacitive controls do need some work and I would appreciate a slightly slimmer design closer to that of the M3, in addition to support for remote commands. Sonically, the sub-bass roll-off and background hiss are both noticeable but certainly no worse than the average budget player or smartphone. I do feel that the majority of complaints have been overstated and most would be unlikely to detect the roll-off if not for preliminary reports from experienced listeners. Otherwise, the AP60 is sonically competitive with the best budget players and is easily the most feature-rich within its price class. In my usage, the AP60 has provided a user experience that is easily as pleasing as that of the M3 and just slightly behind the more expensive iPod Nano while retaining significantly more convenience and flexibility.
Verdict – 8/10, The AP60 isn’t the perfect budget player, but it does balance its compromises with incredibly useful features such as Bluetooth support, OTG and Host mode. I’m almost inclined to say that the player is at its best when paired with an external DAC/AMP through OTG or Bluetooth headphone, both of which negate its sonic shortcomings, making the AP60 a great flexible, inexpensive GUI for your favourite gear. The addition of expandable storage, wide file support and simple drag/drop file transfers does make it the endlessly more liveable device when compared to the iPod Nano, though I can still see the benefits of the iPod’s interface and slimmer profile. It is also a great alternative to the Fiio M3 for those in need of the extra features and a more capable interface. Ultimately, the AP60 provides a great feature set augmented by a pleasing software and audio experience.