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  #1  
Old 07-21-2013, 06:42 PM
Alan2012 Alan2012 is offline
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Default Iriver AK120

The price of this player at 1,099.00 is insane but is worth it ?


The King of Kings Has Arrived!
iRiver, the king of MP3 digital audio players were competing with Apple for this market segment. Ironically, they have turned full circle and are now strongly advocating audiophile sound quality. Astell&Kern brings you the original sound, right at the moment of the studio recording and before the compression format of the CD, just the way the sound is meant to be heard. The AK120 takes the story a step further with twice the memory, two DACs and twice the output of the AK100 model.
Get the tissues out... Prepare to Drool! The Astell & Kern AK120 portable audio system is an audiophiles dream player. Like its predecessor it is capable of playing Mastering Quality Sound files (MQS) from online stores like HDtracks.com, in addition to a slew of other lossless formats like Ogg, FLAC, WAV, WMA, APE and yes, even MP3 audio files. Unlike its predecessor it packs 64GB of internal built in memory, sports 2 micro SD card drives that can each take a 64GB card (yes that is a total memory capacity of 192GB) and instead of one Wolfson 8740 DAC, used by high end Hi-Fi manufacturers such as Linn and ARCAM, the AK120 has two. Two DACs why? I hear you ask, the AK120 uses a DAC on each channel giving you completely seperate, isolated left and right audio channels.
A Refined Design with an Analog FeelThe AK120 is enveloped in a beautiful brushed aluminium casing, a finish that defines fine craftmanship and a strive for perfection.
The design of the volume wheel protector resembles the bridge of a stringed instrument and hints at the enriched sound output from the AK120. Luxurious details are not missed at all with the AK120. The red ring wrapped around the volume wheel is a design statement of the Astell&Kern identity and the fine craftsmanship of all metal components reassures the long lasting quality guaranteed from Astell & Kern.
The Astell&Kern is a digital device with an analog ambiance. The volume wheel also provides analog musical inspirations that are not often found on typical push-button volume controls.
Astell&Kern is the ultimate portable high-fidelity audio system capable of studio Mastering Quality Sound (MQS)Mastering Quality Sound (MQS) is an acronym of collective lossless & high-resolution audio source formats, typically in 24-bit/44 to 192kHz of bit/sampling rates. Because MQS delivers about 6.5 times more detail than a conventional CD format (16bit/44.1kHz), listeners can enjoy a better and a more realistic sound quality.
24-bit/44 to 192kHz is the music industry norm used in the mastering process during sound production. However, the result of high resolution music files has to be compressed down to 16bit/44.1kHz so it can be stored into a single CD due to the memory storage shortcomings (~700MB). To produce the MP3 format, the high-resolution audio is compressed even further to 128 to 320kbps for the convenience of file size. These compressions remove the enormous amount of the details of the original recording because of memory storage limitations and listeners will never be able to hear the details.
The AK120 MQS Portable System goes beyond the standard Hi-Fi specifications.The AK120 not only meets the standards of Hi-Fi audio, but also utilizes two DACs (digital to analog converters), maximizing the dual-mono set up to isolate the left and right audio channels completely separate. In result, it delivers broader dynamic range and wider soundstage, so that you can enjoy even more realistic music.


The AK120 offers very intuitive user experience through a more robust and sensitive touch screen.The 2.4 inch touchscreen and the integrated hardware control buttons on the right and left side of the AK120 make setup quick and easy. Now with an updated and intuitive graphic user interface of the AK120, find your favorite tunes quickly even without taking it out of your pocket. The curved design of the volume wheel guard provides additional protection to the volume wheel.
Dual DACThe AK120 not only meets the standards of Hi-Fi audio, but also utilizes two DACs (digital to analog converters) maximizing the dual-mono set up to completely separate and isolate the left and right audio channels. As a result, the AK120 delivers broader a dynamic range and wider soundstage so that you can enjoy an even more realistic music experience.
Enjoy great MQS music for up to 14 hours, this is possible thanks to the same ultra-low-power design unveiled with the AK100.
The AK120 is equipped with dual microSD card slots and supports up to 192GB of storage space. The AK120 comes with 64GB of high-speed internal flash memory and dual microSD memory card slots capable of supporting up to 64GB of memory in each slot. Store up to 192GB of high-resolution audio.The additional memory card slot is an important feature as 24-bit album recordings will soon be released with music files stored on microSD memory cards. For a mainstream album, LP (vinyl) records would be considered as first generation, second generations are cassette tapes, and Compact Discs (CDs) are the third and current generation. Fourth generation albums are considered as MQS albums that are released in high capacity microSD memory cards. Comfortably enjoy two albums at once through the dual memory card slots of the Astell & Kern.
* The Astell & Kern supports MQS high-resolution music stored on microSD cards.


Features
  • 64GB of internal memory
  • Dual MicroSDHC port capable to expand the total amount of internal memory of the Astell & Kern AK120 up to 192GB.
  • Compatible with 24bit/192kHZ WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC
  • APE, MP3, AAC, WMA & OGG
  • Two Woflson WM8740 powerful DACs
  • Signal to Noise Ratio of 113dB
  • Frequency response - 0.02dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) / 0.2dB (Condition: 10Hz~70kHz)
  • 2.4″LCD IPS color screen
  • 14H continuous playback battery when listening to 16bit FLAC
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  #2  
Old 07-22-2013, 10:32 AM
musichound musichound is offline
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Nope, it's absolutely not worth it. Even if all their claims are true, I don't believe most headphone would be able to pick up the extra details in audio. I would rather slash my wrists than to spend this obscene amount on a player.
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  #3  
Old 07-22-2013, 10:38 AM
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Marvin the Martian Marvin the Martian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by musichound View Post
Nope, it's absolutely not worth it. Even if all their claims are true, I don't believe most headphone would be able to pick up the extra details in audio. I would rather slash my wrists than to spend this obscene amount on a player.
+1
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  #4  
Old 07-22-2013, 04:29 PM
Mikerman Mikerman is offline
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Interesting. And silly pricing.
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  #5  
Old 07-22-2013, 04:37 PM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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Whether or not something is worth it is in the eyes of the purchaser to me. Since I know that there can't be an audible improvement for me my answer would be the same as musichound, there's absolutely no reason for me to waste my hard earned cash on advertising claims that make no sense for my situation.

"My situation" is the operative part of that. I've checked my hearing and have done the research to know that all the hype surrounding lossless playback and higher sample rates and bit depths doesn't make the difference, if any, audible to me. If someone cares to spend this type of money to try to hear something that almost certainly can be achieved at a fraction of the price, that's up to them. I won't be joining them.

Besides I get a good laugh from reading posts other places by the over financed and under-researched folks who equate higher cost with better audio fidelity. I've found that doesn't necessarily hold true for me but I'm not paying for what they buy so I may as well get some entertainment value from the circus that surrounds these boutique players.
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Old 07-22-2013, 07:18 PM
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Marvin the Martian Marvin the Martian is offline
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My reaction when I saw the price of the AK120....

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  #7  
Old 07-22-2013, 07:50 PM
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The DarkSide The DarkSide is offline
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The FiiO X3 is still the better bargain,...same as a clip+, clipzip, iPod touch, iPod classic, iPod nano, Sony Walkman, etc, etc. This player is an overhyped pos.
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Old 07-23-2013, 02:32 AM
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skamp skamp is offline
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To be clear:
  • They chose the name "Astell & Kern" out of thin air, to cater to audiophools who will think that sounds like a "boutique" name, like "Bowers & Wilkins", "Bang & Olufsen" or "Harman / Kardon".
  • They tout support for "Master Quality Sound", i.e. 24 bit and 192 kHz sampling, to cater to audiophools who think that improves sound quality.
  • They priced it very high, to cater to audiophools who think that more expensive = better.

Conclusion: they cater to audiophools.

Last edited by skamp; 07-23-2013 at 03:20 AM.
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  #9  
Old 07-24-2013, 06:13 PM
JK98 JK98 is offline
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The $1300 price is crazy! If they priced it at $130 instead then I could see buying it.
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  #10  
Old 07-28-2013, 04:48 PM
potheadpixie potheadpixie is offline
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Hang on guys... Have you heard this unit? I spent three days with it and used it as a walkman, through the car audio unit and through my hi-fi and I have to say I was impressed. It's ability to drive hi-fi's make this a flexible unit. It definitely has an analogue and natural type of sound with more detail and dynamics than I have heard through (my limited) experience of cd players such as the Rega Jupiter (similarly priced). If you were in the market for a new cd player and mp3 player and this is within budget I would definitely recommend a listen. I started off thinking it was insanely overpriced, heard it and still think its over priced. However would I buy one if I had the cash - you bet. This is the nearest I will get to walking around with a turntable in my pocket. Hopefully the price will drop over the next few months.
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Old 07-28-2013, 05:04 PM
musichound musichound is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by potheadpixie View Post
Hang on guys... Have you heard this unit? I spent three days with it and used it as a walkman, through the car audio unit and through my hi-fi and I have to say I was impressed. It's ability to drive hi-fi's make this a flexible unit. It definitely has an analogue and natural type of sound with more detail and dynamics than I have heard through (my limited) experience of cd players such as the Rega Jupiter (similarly priced). If you were in the market for a new cd player and mp3 player and this is within budget I would definitely recommend a listen. I started off thinking it was insanely overpriced, heard it and still think its over priced. However would I buy one if I had the cash - you bet. This is the nearest I will get to walking around with a turntable in my pocket. Hopefully the price will drop over the next few months.
I suggest if possible, do a blind listening test. What you are "hearing" could be a placebo effect because your mind is telling you that you are listening to a premium player. The "lowly" Sansa Clip series has constantly bested the HiFiman in audio tests, but some people who own it swear it is the best player known to man. I think only a blind listening test can rule out if your mind is playing tricks on you or not.
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Old 07-28-2013, 05:54 PM
potheadpixie potheadpixie is offline
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Hi,

Yes, you are right, only a blind listening test can rule out the placebo effect. A bit of context though; It was a friend of mine who borrowed this unit, and the ak100, and offered to lend it to me for 3 days before it needed returning. I had already made my mind up beforehand that it was out of my league but was curious and actually approached listening to it quite critically. I compared it to my Cowon D2 first of all and it was no contest, askell & kern was much better sound quality - by a long way. However, the files were MP3 320kb against the hi-res files on the askell & kern so perhaps unfair depending on your point of view of flac vs mp3. I then played through my hi-fi (naim) and again compared to my SONOS with Rega Dac it the askell & kern was clearly a superior sound quality. Walked all over the D2 in this regard. I must confess though I haven't tried a Sansa clip. All that said I think I would take your advice and try a blind test if one day it was an affordable option for me - which I am working on..... somehow! Thanks.
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  #13  
Old 07-29-2013, 12:30 PM
JK98 JK98 is offline
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Even if it is better than a $130 player, is it 10x as good?????? The issue isn't whether it is better or not than a $130 player(or even a $30 Clip+) but HOW MUCH BETTER IT IS, and IS IT WORTH THE HUGE PRICE DIFFERENCE. Perhaps if you are Bill Gates then spending $1300 even if it is just a few percent better might still make sense, but for the average person a relatively small difference in sound quality isn't worth a huge difference in price.
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  #14  
Old 07-29-2013, 12:34 PM
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Marvin the Martian Marvin the Martian is offline
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Some of the big proponents of this player also believe that wav files sound better than flac, and 32gb microsd cards sound better than 64GB microsd cards. That is enough to raise a few red flags, I hope....
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Old 07-29-2013, 12:41 PM
musichound musichound is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marvin the Martian View Post
Some of the big proponents of this player also believe that wav files sound better than flac, and 32gb microsd cards sound better than 64GB microsd cards. That is enough to raise a few red flags, I hope....

LOL, WAV and FLAC files sound 100 percent identical, and I pity those who think they sound different.
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  #16  
Old 07-29-2013, 02:42 PM
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But, but, my 4gb micro sd card sounds SOOOOOOOOOO much better than my 16gb card. My ears, and my claims, cannot be wrong!!!!!

Duh!!!
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Old 07-29-2013, 05:06 PM
potheadpixie potheadpixie is offline
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Mmmm interesting. Look around the net and you will find that those that have actually heard it (and there are lots of people), are really impressed with the sound quality. Probably like me though I'm sure many can't afford it. All I will say is give it a listen? No you won't come away believing its a bargain but as technology becomes cheaper this may be the sound of things to come. Personally I find it interesting - bit like computers, cars, smartphones, etc these things tend to eventually become affordable(ish). Given your interests in Mp3 players I'm really surprised your not just a little curious....
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Old 07-29-2013, 07:33 PM
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And look around the net and you'll see plenty of individuals that will say the claims made by iriver are bs.
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Old 07-29-2013, 07:37 PM
skip252 skip252 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by potheadpixie View Post
...All I will say is give it a listen?
Not gonna happen. That would require buying one unless they're giving away free samples. Other than that see post #5 for the reasons I'm so firm on this.

BTW, this isn't the first time someone has popped in to post there's a number of people that say one of these boutique players sounds great. I learned from those threads here and other places that another persons subjective opinion is worthless to me. Feel free to base your buying decisions on them but I won't be joining you.
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  #20  
Old 07-30-2013, 01:35 PM
potheadpixie potheadpixie is offline
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Ah, not quite 'anything'butipod then....!
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