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AGPTEK H1 MP3 Player

Linking Mart/Agptek kindly sent me their latest Lossless Media player for review.

External Features

The first thing that strikes you about this player is its sheer weight and feeling of solidity - this is one nicely built device and compared very favourably with some of the more esoteric high end players that are now coming onto the market. The H1 is made from an aluminium alloy and appears to weigh about the same as my Note 2 and Otterbox case combination. With this in mind I don’t really want to use the unit when walking out and about - I would rather either use my phone and a pair of bluetooth headphones or one of the smaller MP3 players in my collection and a pair of earbuds. I also don’t want to scratch the unit up as I think it looks rather beautiful.

One instantly noticeable feature is the neat analogue like volume control on the right hand edge of the unit. This looks remarkably similar to the Astell and Kern Model 100 with a knurled clicky action and offers 100 steps. This is one of the nicest features on the player and allows for some really fine control - ideal for when you require fine adjustment when you're using iem's. The volume control can be used whilst the display is off - with one click representing one step in volume. I have put the unit in my pocket and walked around and the volume control doesn’t appear to suffer from accidental changes.

The unit doesn’t feature a touch screen. The front of the unit features a multi-way selector and OK button for navigation and an additional three buttons offer Play/Pause, Menu and Back function. The screen is fairly clear but I personally found the font size a little too small for my tired old eyes - it would have been nice to be able to adjust this. The power switch slides down for power on and up for lock. I found that I didn’t need to use the lock function as none of the controls were accidentally activated when the unit was in my pocket. The player also features a Line Output socket next to the headphone socket so it can be used with a separate headphone amplifier - although in all fairness the amp in the unit appears to be first class and I suspect that most portable amps wouldn’t really offer that much improvement in the sound quality. On a side note, it would have been really nice if AGPtEK has included a case with the unit as I can’t help thinking that it’s going to get scratched sooner or later.  I am tempted to apply some kind of screen protection at least to the unit. (Note that the unit actually does come supplied with a screen protector and a protector for the entire back of the unit which I foolishly removed on opening).

The player features a Micro SD card slot on the side which is spring loaded. The SD Card sits completely flush with the unit when inserted and there’s no danger of accidentally losing the card during normal use. I am using a 64gb card with the unit without any problems - although the manufacturers state that 64gb is the maximum size, I suspect it would take a 128gb card without any problems although I haven’t tried this myself. The headphone socket doesn’t appear to be anything special but all the headphones I tried fitted perfectly and without any issues.

All in all, the build quality of the player is absolutely first class and feels like a quality item that should last a very long time.

Sound Quality

Headphones Used:
Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10’s
Audio Technica ATH M50x
Sony XBA H1
Puro BT5200 (in wired mode)
1More Triple Driver Hybrids

One thing I noticed straight away with this player is that it doesn’t really offer any character of its own to the sound. This is a good thing and means that any additional bass or treble you experience is a result of the headphones used rather than from the player. The amplifier in the unit is easily capable of driving the full sized Audio Technica’s to very high levels. Although the ATH M50x’s are a fairly easy load, I have noticed that they really do need a bit of power to sound their best - and the H1 certainly delivers this in spades. When used with the Ultimate Ears Triple Fi 10’s the amplification is almost overkill but welcome nonetheless.

Part way through the listening tests I received a pair of 1More’s excellent Triple Driver IEM’s and they certainly pair very nicely with the H1. Bass is controlled and the noise floor is virtually completely absent - I would wholeheartedly recommend this combination and I think it represents superb value for money - the AGPtEK H1, a 64gb or 128gb Micro SD card and the 1More headphones would work out at around 200 UK Pounds and is a killer combination. Note that the 1More’s appear to require a little more driving than the Ultimate Ears do but this player can cope with that without any problems.

I used a combination of high-bitrate MP3’s and lossless music files and found that the player copes with pretty much any genre of music without any problems. I could hear details in the music that I have not noticed before - especially in the higher frequencies which were very nicely reproduced without introducing any harshness at all. The Ultimate Ears worked really nicely with the player and offered the best degree of transparency and accuracy in my opinion. One thing that was immediately apparent was how easy it was to be able to focus on whatever part of the music you wanted to - if bass guitar is your thing you can clearly separate the bass sound from the rest of the music without having to concentrate too much. Same goes with any other musical element. This applied pretty much with all the headphones that I tried but was most apparent with the better quality in ear monitors.

When compared to the output of the excellent Samsung Galaxy Note 2, the additional top end information the H1 can reproduce was readily apparent. This is high praise indeed as I have found the Galaxy Note 2 to be one of the best smartphones for music playback. The H1 also has more power available than the Note 2 typically has and this is very noticeable when using the ATH m50X’s.This additional power makes for a much ‘fuller’ and more detailed sound - even at lower volumes.

So from a pure sound quality perspective, this player rocks. Battery life appears to be very good and recharge times are pretty good too. Unfortunately this player doesn’t cope too well with gapless playback. On The Wall and Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd the gaps between the tracks were quite obvious and occasionally the player produced a high pitched ‘beep’ sound between tracks. I’m not sure if this is an issue with the way these albums were originally encoded or if the problem is with the player itself. Not all the albums in my collection exhibited this phenomenon so it’s perhaps my files that are to blame for this. It’s not a deal breaker for me but it would have been nice to have the silence between these tracks reduced to a split second (or better yet eliminated completely - perhaps this can be addressed with a future firmware upgrade).

On the subject of firmware, I have no idea if this is something that the end user can upgrade themselves - I strongly suspect that additional third-party software like Rockbox will not be an option with this player but time will tell. Hopefully a firmware upgrade would improve the gapless playback issues - in all fairness though that’s just about the only fault I can find with this remarkable player.

In case you haven’t guessed it, I really REALLY like this player. I feel that I have a budget priced Astell & Kern player in my pocket and to be honest I very strongly suspect that the difference in sound quality between this player and the Astell & Kern players can’t be that great, whilst admittedly there are definitely differences in features and capabilities. The A&K features 2 Micro SD card slots and can play back higher resolution bitrates/files. I feel the differences do fall into the law of diminishing returns - changing headphones would almost certainly produce a more noticable difference in sound quality than changing players for the most part in my opinion. This player has suppressed my continual need to upgrade hardware (for the time being at least). I can wholeheartedly recommend this player to anyone who’s primary interest is sound quality. A clear and definite five stars.

Linking Mart AGPtEK H1 Page
http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01HB1HF76

Linking Mart Amazon Storefront Page
https://www.amazon.co.uk/AGPtek®/b/ref=bl_dp_s_web_3011424031?ie=UTF8&node=3011424031&field-lbr_brands_browse-bin=AGPtek®