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Ruizu A50 Review - A Party In Your Pocket

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When planned-out well and executed right, budget Chi-Fi can be such a great-great thing. This could be one of them. Take all look at the Ruizu’s A50 DAP.
Ruizu A50 Review - A Party In Your Pocket
Ruizu A50 review

Measuring just a little over 2 inches tall, 1.7 inches wide, looks good and sounds even better! If you’re looking for a highly-compact and transportable DAP that sounds natural and slightly bright, read on!

Ruizu A50 Specs

Display: 2.5 TFT 320 x 240 resolution at 160 ppi
ROM: expandable via micro SD card slot up to 128 GB
Battery: 800 mAh Li Pol w/ 12 - 15 hours playtime and 1 hour charging time
Connectivity: 3.5 mm jack, micro USB, USB 2.0
Supported Audio Formats: MP3, WMA, WAV, APE, FLAC, ACC, OGG, AIFF, DSD256 (at a future firmware update)
Output: ≥ 80mW
Price: PHP 3,500

Disclaimer: This DAP we have is a seed review unit from Urban Audiophile.

Unboxing / Accessories

The box of A50
The box of A50

Relative to the size of the device, the A50 comes in a rather large two-tier white box. On the front is a picture of the device, and printed at the back in classy matte-silver font are what seems to be the features of the A50. Since these were printed in Chinese, I am only surmising. 

When you open the box, the A50 is positioned right in the middle of neatly cut white foam tray, and underneath is a white cardboard box that contains your USB charging and transfer cable, your user's manual and your warranty card.

Build Quality / Design

Sylish and solid

Despite its size, the A50 does not scream budget Chi-Fi. This immediately made me feel good about it. I felt even better when I first held the device. Although it felt a little awkward in my hands since I have larger than average paws, the A50’s stylish good looks and solid weight gives you the impression that you’re getting more than what you paid for.

The aluminum chassis is finished in matte black that looks and feels durable!

Occupying the whole front of the device is a glass (yes, real glass) screen that only adds to the fine build of the A50. An interesting form design element is the ramp-like right side of the chassis that then drops right before it reaches the bottom corner. 

This angle gives the user a firm grasp on the device, and the "drop" at the lower right corner provides a surface where the A50 can settle into your palm. The matte finish also minimizes slippage during one-hand operation. With the A50 firmly cradled into your palm, your thumb or index finger can then operate the multi-function scroll wheel on the upper right corner.

The curved corner on the upper right of the device is a smart design touch. Not only does it serve the practical purpose of seamlessly blending the form factor with the navigation control wheel, it (and the previously mentioned "ramp") also sets apart the A50 from the other budget Chi-Fi DAPs in this price range.

Think Benjie T6. The T6 went for the practical and industrial look, the smaller A50 is its sportier-hipper cousin. Before you start sending some grief to my beloved T6 just because the A50 looks better, stand down. My findings might just surprise you.

With the face of the device reserved for the screen, the control buttons for "back", "up" and "down" are at the left side of the device. You also have a recessed / concealed hard reset button here in case the device freezes. At topside are your 3.5 mm headphone output, power / lock button and your multi-function scroll wheel that does triple duty for menu scrolling, function selection and volume. At the bottom is a standard micro 5-pin USB port to charge and transfer songs to the A50. Next to this is an uncovered TF card slot that can accept up to 128 GB. Similar to budget DAPs at this price range, there is no internal memory.

Features

If an equalizer is a feature that you are looking for, Ruizu delivers with a customizable 7-seven band EQ that has 6 pre-sets for the more popular musical genres plus 1 custom setting.

Those who listen to songs from different albums will be happy with the A50’s ability to create playlists. This is great feature to have since jumping from one folder to another just to get to a specific song can get clunky with a scroll wheel. However, the firmware is snappy so navigating around was very quick.

Battery Life

I got about 12 to 15 hours battery life which is extremely great for a device at this size. Charging the A50 was a breeze. It took about an hour to top it off, coming from an almost depleted battery.  All these being said, the A50 is a true mobile DAP.

Performance

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Most of my listening was done with my VE Monk Plus HEEP Edition and my Trinity Audio Phantom Master 4, both of which have upgraded cables. The Monks were done by Smawk Braids, while my PM4 was taken care of by Ednelle Caralde. If you’re in the mood for a cable upgrade, look up these dudes on the HEEP FB Group. I can vouch for their stellar cable work.

Let me say this right here, right now: The A50 is a musical and natural sounding DAP!

It is not warm sounding like a FiiO, but for the most part the A50 is transparent and musical. On the assumption that you have well recorded and excellently produced hi-res music files, the device can fluently deliver the artist’s tonal vision of the recording. If you are familiar with how the Benjie T6 sounds, then you’re on the right track. Both have very similar sound signatures with some slight differences.

One of my favorite remasters is 25th Anniversary edition of Peter Gabriel’s era-defining album from 1986, "So".  Aside from the details and clarity that you expect from a remaster, I love this version because of its soundstage - wide but natural and organic. It is a recording that I am extremely familiar with. The A50 easily reached back in time, and gave me an engaging run through the whole album. I continued with the 80s vibe and followed with more FLAC tracks from Ultravox and the Cure. On the Cure’s Disintegration album, the A50 proved how natural sounding it was because it easily rendered the painfully bleak sound and production of this dark and moody album.    
      
Paired with my PM4, the A50 gave me a joyful, tight rockin' sound on Spire’s "Ballade fon den drie Sundern". The track is from the Russian band’s "Tume Veel" album, the vocal harmonies backed by a snare drum playing a slow marching pattern, was simply beautiful to listen to.  In fact, the whole album worked well with the A50. The device’s almost effortless musicality paired with Spire’s medieval folk metal stylings will make you want to dance around a huge bonfire under a full moon, as you swear allegiance to the forest deity "Leshak".

On louder, more aggressive music like the track "Christfire" [on 2857kbps/96bit FLAC] by symphonic black metallers Hecate Enthroned, the A50-PM4 pairing continued to shine with even layering of the band’s dual vocals and complex electric-symphonic instrumentation.

Verdict

At this price and feature point, you’d be hard pressed to find an exceptional sounding Chi-Fi DAP that would rival the A50. The only contender I would seriously consider is the Benjie T6.  Burn a little more cash, and you will have the much prettier and sexier Ruizu A50.

If you really are passionate about audio but burdened by a limited budget, what you should do is pair the A50 with a capable mid-tier IEM like the Trinity Audio Phantom Master 4 or the Pioneer SE-CH9T.  Yes, trust me on this one, and you can thank me later! This is the only way you can fully enjoy the audio bliss that the A50 can deliver. Another benefit is when you upgrade your DAP (in the future, you won't need to bleed for another IEM.  

Build / Design - 4.75
Battery - 5
Features - 4.5
Sound - 4.75
Average - 4.75 / 5

I welcome your questions, comments and suggestions, email me at: sheepdog2112@gmail.com
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