RUIZU A50 Digital Audio Player review – Pocket powerhouse
Today I’m reviewing the RUIZU A50 DAP. RUIZU is known by many in the Head-Fi community for their budget level music players. The company also makes other electronic devices such as watches and voice recorders but not much else is known at this time although I was able to find their website here.
Their latest DAP is a step up (at least in price) to their previous offerings so I was very keen to run it through its paces and see how it compares to other similarly priced players in this suddenly burgeoning segment. So let’s get started and take a look at the RUIZU A50 Lossless Mini Sports Mp3 player and see if it deserves to be part of your personal rig.
The A50 currently retails for $55 and can be purchased from Amazon and Penon Audio.
This sampe was provided for the purpose of an honest review. All observations and opinions here are my own, based on my experience with the product.
The A50 DAP comes in a typical style, white box with an image of the player on the front. On the back are listed some of the features.
Opening the box reveals the player secured in a white foam cutout. Under the foam is the included USB charging and transfer cable, a User’s manual and warranty card.
Build and functionality
The RUIZU A50 DAP feels good in your hand from the moment you pick it up. It has a nice weight to it that makes it feel strong and premium. The matte black finish of the aluminium chassis feels really smooth and it doesn’t show any fingerprints at all.
The screen is a glass panel that takes up the entire front side and is actually real glass, unlike some other budget DAPs that throw on a plastic one so it should be fairly resistant to scratches but it does become marred easily with fingerprints. Fortunately, with the player being so small, it’s very easy to wipe the screen clean.
In use, the 2.5 inch TFT screen, which has a resolution of 240 * 320px shows text clearly but album art is very small, similar to the IQQ C18 and Mrobo C5. The brightness level is adjustable but it can still be difficult to see the display in direct sunlight even on the brightest setting.
The DAP is rectangular in shape with a couple of subtle additions that give it a nice aesthetic appeal. First is the top right corner which is rounded off to follow the contour of the control wheel. Secondly, there’s a raised section on the right side that gets slightly bigger at the bottom and this really helps give the A50 an interesting look rather than just having a generic box shape. The corners on the front are a little sharp for my preference (except the rounded top right one) but it doesn’t cause any discomfort in your hand or pocket.
On the top, there’s a 3.5 mm headphone jack, metal power button and scroll wheel. The scroll wheel is used to scroll through menus (also available with side buttons) and volume control. It’s also a button that functions as the select key in menus. On the now playing screen, a long press on the button acts as the play/pause button and with a short press brings up the option to add the song to a playlist or delete the file. The power button doubles as the screen on/off. While the screen is off all buttons become inactive except for volume control.
There are 3 buttons on the left side and they are (from top to bottom) back/previous screen, forward and back. A long press on the back button returns you to the main menu. The forward and back buttons can be used to navigate menus, rewind and fast forward and for shuttle control. There’s also a pinhole reset between the back and rewind buttons.
On the bottom are the micro USB port and Micro SD card slot. And that’s all there is to it. It’s a relatively simple setup and I found it to be much more intuitive to use than the NiNTAUS X10 and Mrobo C5 and on par with the IQQ C18 but the scroll wheel on the A50 is more accurate and easier to use.
Onto the menus now and from the main menu screen these are the options:
For some reason, the Category menu and the Music menu are the same and I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s an error or a filler but maybe it will be changed/fixed in a future firmware update.
I used a 64 GB Micro SD card for testing the A50 DAP. After inserting the card the player would take about 20 seconds to update the music library but I recently formatted the card and there aren’t a lot of files on it. With a full card the update takes a bit longer but during my testing, it didn’t take longer than a minute.
The UI feels snappy and responsive, much more so than the IQQ C18 DAP. Navigating is simple using the scroll wheel/button and the back button. For the most part, everything works in a logical fashion apart from a couple of minor quirks but none worth mentioning.
Album art needs to be fairly small in size, otherwise, it doesn’t display and you get a generic cover image. The now playing screen shows all the relevant information including (from top to bottom):
Available storage space
Note that the player is said to support DSD256 but at the time of writing this review it does not. It should do in the near future with RUIZU’s next firmware update. I did test DSD128 and it works flawlessly and plays instantaneously without the slightest startup delay.
Unfortunately, there’s no gapless playback at this stage but that might also change with a future firmware version. Only a few of my albums are seamless so the lack of gapless didn’t bother me at all. It’s something to keep in mind, however, if that feature is important to you.
Breakpoint resume IS supported and it works very well. If music is playing when you switch the player off it will resume playing after powering on and if the music is paused at the time of shutdown it will be paused when you turn the player back on. Perfect.
Overall the A50 DAP is a pleasure to use and my only (very minor) gripe is that I wish the scroll wheel had a bit more resistance in order to avoid accidental volume changes while handling the unit.
Brand Model: A50
Headphones, the output power ≥ 80mW
Transmission interface: MICRO 5PIN, USB2.0
System language: support multiple languages
Expansion card: Support MicroSD (TF) card to 128GB
Operating system audio format: Window XP, VISTA, WINDOWS 10
Support Format ：MP3, WMA, WAV, APE, FLAC, ACC, OGG, AIFF, DSD256
Charging time: about 1 hour (using 5V / 1000 mA charger)
Play-time: about 15 hours (headset volume 30 screensaver to play lossless music)
Most of my testing was done with the DUNU DK-3100 because I’m also reviewing that at present but also because it has quickly become one of my favourite IEMs. For critical listening and comparisons, however, I resorted to the Ultrasone Performance 860 because of its linearity and excellent resolution and because it is one of my reference headphones.
The RUIZU A50 DAP sounds musical and full bodied but still detailed. That doesn’t mean it has a warm sound though, just that it is mostly transparent and reproduces sound in the same way it was recorded. It doesn’t appear to add any colouring to the sound but neither does it have an analytical presentation. While not as resolving as higher end DAPs it’s certainly up there with the best I’ve heard in the sub one hundred section.
The soundstage on this little player is good, with a nice spacious presentation that goes fairly wide but also has some depth. There is good layering but I have some misgivings about the dynamic range. It seems to be lacking extension in the very high frequencies and drops off suddenly after 10 kHz. There’s usually not much happening in music in that range but it does seem to lessen the sense of air at the high end.
The RUIZU A50 DAP worked surprisingly well with everything I threw at it. It was tested with many different IEMs including the LZ A4,TFZ Balance 2M and DUNU DK-3001. I couldn’t detect any background noise or hiss with any of those. I found that with the earphones I was using a comfortable listening level was between 10 and 20 (maximum is 100).
When it came to full-sized headphones, the RUIZU A50 again took the task in its stride, including the Ultrasone Performance 860, MSUR N650 and Acoustic Research H1 Planar Magnetic. Those are all low impedance headphones but I was astonished at its ability to drive the 250 Ohm Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro which I was using at only around 50% volume! Not only that but the bass still had loads of authority and the sound was full-bodied and satisfying.
The battery life is rated at around 15 hours and I found this to be fairly accurate. If you’re using a sensitive IEM at low to moderate volume it might be a bit more. Adversely, if you’re using something harder to drive or high volume it may be a little less. Overall though I was happy with the amount of play time and with fast charging technology built-in, the device needs only an hour for a full charge.
Has a better screen layout and album art looks sharper. The UI and navigation are inferior with the unnecessarily complicated volume controls and awkward button layout. Battery life is more than double the A50 but output power is significantly lower.
Soundstage is slightly more narrow but there’s very little in it. Tonality is very similar but layering doesn’t seem quite as good. Has a dedicated line out which the A50 lacks.
The screen and album art is inferior compared to the A50. UI and navigation are inferior with awkward button layout though fortunately volume is controlled in the same manner (with the scroll wheel). Battery life is more than double but output power is lower.
Tonality is similar with resolution and layering almost indistinguishable between the two. Soundstage is very similar on both though maybe a little less depth on the C5.
Album art is vastly superior but menu text is very narrow making navigation more difficult. The T6 has its “D-Pad” type controls which is by far my preferred system but it would be so much better with a dedicated back button added. Soundstage is slightly wider and there seems to be more extension in the upper treble adding an airiness to the sound.
Although the T6 has a high gain setting it still has less maximum output power. Battery life is very similar. T6 has Bluetooth but also has an inferior plastic screen compared to glass on the A50. Superior dynamic range.
RUIZU A50 Conclusion
The RUIZU A50 DAP has a fantastic build quality that outshines all others that I’ve tested in the budget segment, even the Mrobo C5. RUIZU’s player is the only one that has a proper glass screen, making it look more premium and also making it more resistant to scratches and loss of clarity over time. The chassis is beautifully crafted and all metal buttons are icing on the cake. It simply looks and feels more premium than the competition.
With a very logical UI and button layout, plus the scroll wheel it’s a pleasure to use and the small size makes it extremely portable and convenient. When the sound quality is added to the equation the RUIZU A50 DAP stands out as an incredibly good value and if you’re looking for a high quality, budget DAP there are not many that can compete with this one.