Tuesday, August 29, 2017

BENJIE S5 / AGPTEK M20 Music Player Review & Teardown

This is a full review and tear-down of the Benjie S5 / AGPTEK M20 Hi-Fi music player. The Benjie S5 is a portable music player that has gained recognition from users for its sound quality and small price. The small player supports the most popular compressed and uncompressed audio formats: APE, FLAC, OGG, MP3, WMA, AAC-LC, WAV and ACELP. That means you can probably play all your music library without the need to convert any music files. The player has 8GB of internal memory and supports up to 64GB microSD cards. Playing time is 14 hours. The Benjie S5/AGPTEK M20 is also an FM stereo receiver and voice recorder.

If you play music on your cellphone, you probably can notice some interference noises. It's very difficult to suppress those unwanted noises on a cellphone. If you want better audio quality, a dedicated music player (like the Benjie S5/AGPTEK M20) is the way to go! 

Benjie S5 Music Player, box, earphones & USB cable.

The heart of the Benjie S5/AGPTEK M20 player is the Actions Semiconductor ATJ2127 single-chip highly-integrated digital multimedia solution. The ATJ2127 includes an audio decoder, record capabilities and USB interface. It has a built-in Sigma-Delta D/A converter and includes a headphone driver to directly drive low impedance headphones. 

Supported music formats: APE, FLAC, OGG, MP3, WMA, AAC-LC, WAV and ACELP
Memory capacity: 8 GB (internal)
External memory: supports up to 64GB microSD cards
Playing time: 14 hours (by earphone)
Charging time: 2 hours
Battery capacity: 3.7V/280 mAh
Charging method: micro USB
Screen: OLED 1"
Firmware upgradable?: Yes
FM radio?: Yes

The player is sold under different brand names as Benjie S5, Benjie M20, AGPTEK M20 and probably others. Hardware and functionality is the same, however AGPTEK does provide firmware updates from their site while (at time of writing) Benjie does not provide firmware updates. It appears however that you can update your Benjie S5 branded player with the AGPTEK M20 firmware without issues. I have done the update without issues and it does provide some (minor) improvements. But, since no significant improvement has been made, I wouldn't bother updating at the moment.

The case is made from Zinc alloy with an aluminium back. There are no screws is sight, the back plate is held in place with double sided tape. I like the design, but I find the case edges a bit too sharp.

Benjie S5 Music Player back.

The player fits the palm off your hands nicely and has nice (but not perfect) control interface. The front face has a small OLED screen, touch control interface and one physical play/pause/select button. Volume control has two dedicated buttons on the left side and the right side has an on/off button and a lock button. The touch control area has no backlight, which means you can't reliably access some functions in the dark. Fortunately, the skip and back functions are available through the Vol Up and Vol Down buttons when the screen is turned off. 

The user interface can be a bit confusing. There is some inconsistency in the use of the Up, Down, Previous, Next buttons when using the settings menu and the FM radio. Sometimes you expect to use the next/previous control, but the interface assigned the function to the up/down control intead. Overall however, the interface works reasonably well.
If, like me, you have not properly tagged all your music, you may like to know that the player has the Folder view option, where you just select the folder where the album you want to play is located and it will play all tracks in that folder.
The player uses its USB connection for charging and file transfer. File transfer is fast.

Audio quality 
What surprises me most about the Benjie S5 is the audio quality. Despite being a low cost entry level Hi-Fi player with a lowish D/A+PA SNR of only >91dB and a 16-bit Sigma-Delta D/A, listening to a wide range of music revealed that the Benjie S5 has very good sound quality. For even better sound quality you would need to pay more than double the price of the Benjie S5 or AGPTEK M20!

Frequency response seems flat, which is good. Using a good set of earphones or headphones the player has plenty of bass and highs even with the equalizer turned off. The Benjie S5/AGPTEK M20 can drive 16 Ohm, 32 Ohm or 64 Ohm headphones easily. It can also drive high sensitivity 100 Ohm headphones, but at a lower maximum sound level. If you want or need, you have 6 equalizer settings to choose from, but unfortunately no custom setting. 

The earphones included with my player deliver good but not great sound. These are all white and with a different cable than other earphones delivered with the Benjie S5. I suggest you get a better pair of earphones or headphones.

The sound on the Benjie S5/AGPTEK M20 is "clean", with no discernible noises. 

Gap-less playback 
Gap-less playback means a music player can play audio tracks without any silence (gap) between them. This means that you can listen to several consecutive tracks as it was one continuous single track. This is desirable because some albums have tracks that are meant to follow the previous track immediately, without the usual silence gap. Unfortunately the player is not capable of gap-less playback. The sound gap is very short, but it is noticeable. This is apparent, for example, on Steve Vai's Sound Theories Vol I & II. Not a deal-breaker though.

The Benjie S5/AGPTEK M20 uses a small 1" OLED display. Despite the small size, the display is quite readable if your eyesight is good, but only indoors or in the shade. Like with so many other players, it's very hard to see the display outdoors on a sunny day. Besides battery level and play mode, the player displays track number, track name, album name, track duration and playback position, but it does not display file bit-rate or type. Only by file name you can know what type of file you are playing. 

Benjie S5 Music Player.

FM radio 
The Benjie S5, AGPTEK M20 has an FM Stereo receiver with 30 pre-sets. Reception with a strong enough signal is good, but weak stations may be hard to receive. FM radio function is performed by the RDA5807M IC. Although the RDA5807M is RDS capable, unfortunately the capability is not implemented by the current firmware. This means no RDS information is displayed and stations are named and memorized with their frequency value and not their name. Recording FM radio is also not possible. 

Benjie S5 FM radio.

The player uses its USB connection for charging the 3.7V 280 mAh Li-on battery using the provided micro USB to standard USB male cable. Charging time is 2 hours. I have not measured exact battery duration, but the claimed 14 hours seem reasonably accurate. Stand-by time is claimed to be 560 days.

Opening the player is not easy, the back is held with double sided tape.

Benjie S5 / AGPTEK M20 teardown.

With the back removed you have access to the Li-on battery.

Benjie S5 / AGPTEK M20 teardown.
The main board. Simple and tidy!
Benjie S5 / AGPTEK M20 teardown.

Removing the main board exposes the touch controller board, the OLED screen, internal memory, headphone connector and play/pause/select button.

Manufacturer product information 
Benjie S5, M20 product page
AGPTEK M20 product page
Action Semiconductor ATJ212X specs 


Note: I may get a small fee (at no extra cost to you) if you use the link to buy the player. Thank you for your support!

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