Brainwavz has placed a $30 price-tag on the AP001, and this puts in a bracket where there is little to no competition. Except the similar OEM devices on the market, the only direct competitor is the Fiio E06. The sound is slightly better than Fiio's offering and the fact that AP001 is not just an amplifier but also an active splitter, featuring two outputs makes the offer far more appealing.
I would like to see Brainwavz's second iteration of AP001, a device that adresses the many issues this tiny AMP is riddled with. On paper, it might seem like a great intermediary between headphones and source; simple to use, just plug and play. However, that's not always the case, since the built-in sensors don't accurately work with any source. The lack of rockers and buttons is also something that should be adressed, because always-on bass-boost means it can only be used with a limited amount of headphones / IEMs. Lastly, there's the EMI noise, which is by far the worst of the bunch.
Despite the drawbacks mentioned above, AP001 still manages to shine. Paired with a proper set of earphones and the right source, you will get a clear improvement in your listening experience. If you like bass, then double that, because this little device suddenly becomes a brilliant addition, delivering a proper thump that sounds just a little bit bloated (that is, when the EMI noise doesn't interfere).
Overall, the AP001 is a decent step into the portable AMP market, and if you're on a limited budget, there's little to no other option available able to deliver a similar experience.
- Dual output;
- Bass-boost always on;
- Fiddly source detection;
- No controls;
- Prone to EMI;