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An Audio360.org Roundtable:
The Astell & Kern AK120

audio360.org> > events > > An Audio360.org Roundtable: The Astell & Kern AK120

Friday, November 8th, 2013

by Warren Chi, Scot Hull, Michael Liang and Michael Mercer


The Astell & Kern AK120. It may not be the flavor-of-the-month anymore, and the hype might finally be dying down. Good! Now we can get down with some real talk about this "audiophile" DAP.

We had thought about reviewing it, but no, just about everyone's mother has reviewed it by now. So instead of some glossed-over review-speak, a regurgitated press release, or a glorified sales brochure, we're simply going to speak freely.

Is the AK120 is worth the money? Is it all that and a bag of chips? Here is a candid look at how we really feel about the AK120... Audio360 style. There are no punches pulled, and there is no courtesy extended.

Want to join the discussion? We welcome it! Please comment using Facebook Comments or Disqus below.


  • Michael Liang
    Playing mine in shuffle mode
  • Michael Mercer
    Good idea! So shall we get this party started?
  • Scot Hull
    Hey!
  • Michael Mercer
    Hey, for ceremony, lets get everybody on shuffle! YO! Mr. Hull. Its a good officer name btw...
  • Michael Liang
    Hi Scot
  • Scot Hull
    Is this where all the cool kids are hanging out?
  • Michael Mercer
    At the moment... unfortunately, LOL!!
  • Michael Liang
    It's where all the cool toys are.
  • Warren Chi
    Okay, here's a loaded question for y'all that jumps right to the heart of the matter: Thinking of the entire concept of "audiophile-quality DAPs," does anyone know of a better unit?
  • Michael Mercer
    A better all-around unit?
  • Warren Chi
    Right, a better all-around unit.
  • Michael Mercer
    I mean, I haven't spent much time with many DAPS (the ibasso, the HiFiMAN long ago and others at shows) but they seemed clunky to me.
  • Michael Liang
    I've been eyeing the market for an audiophile grade DAP, the AK120 is the only non-Apple DAP that has my attention.
  • Michael Mercer
    The AK120 is clean in aesthetics and execution. I'm with Michael, and I only care because of hi rez file portability.
  • Scot Hull
    I don't know of a better sounding DAP, actually.
  • Warren Chi
    Some of you guys know this, some of you don't, but I've been searching for an "audiophile" portable rig for the better part of a year before getting the AK120.
  • Warren Chi
    I was all over the place. At one time, I was just going to surrender and build a huge brick, extra battery packs and all. I was losing my fucking mind TBH. The AK120 ended all of that for me.
  • Michael Mercer
    I heard a HiFiMAN unit once that blew me away (forget the model) but the failure rate was VERY high.
  • Michael Liang
    Call me superficial, but the others are dorky looking. Too heavy on geek-like styling.
  • Michael Mercer
    The HiFiMAN Michael? YES, way too clunky and not sexy at all.
  • Warren Chi
    I found the HiFiMAN HM-901 spectacularly unimpressive. And the damned thing is just too big and tries to mimic a Hasselblad.
  • Michael Mercer
    I remember that conversation! LOL
  • Michael Liang
    Yes, none of the others look good. Big bulky ugly black cubes. Yuck! I wouldn't be caught dead using one in public and that's why I haven't bought one.
  • Michael Mercer
    Yeah, Astell & Kern nailed it. They knew it needed to be slick and modern.
  • Scot Hull
    I think the AK120 is a clear step up from the AK100.
  • Michael Mercer
    Agreed. And I love my AK100!
  • Scot Hull
    But still... I kinda wonder if there isn't more we could expect.
  • Warren Chi
    Of course there's more to expect. There always is!
  • Michael Mercer
    Scot brings up an interesting point...
  • Scot Hull
    The UI is clunky, and the Mac support is simply lacking.
  • Michael Mercer
    I like the AK's with my MacBook Pro. I treat it as a hard-drive. I like the UI myself, and I LOVE dragging and dropping. So I think our tastes are just off there.
  • Scot Hull
    I can drag and drop all day long - what about Mac-based playlists? If they're even possible, it's not intuitive.
  • Michael Liang
    Pansies, I have a Sony SCD-1 SACD player that takes almost one minute to load a CD, and it only plays one disc at a time.
  • Warren Chi
    I've found out something about the UI performance... better metatagging leads to faster UI performance
  • Scot Hull
    Really?
  • Michael Mercer
    It does, doesn't it?
  • Warren Chi
    Yes. Fewer genres and fewer artists specifically. I'm not talking about limiting classification, I mean getting rid of stupid redundancies - like having both "Various Artists" and "various artist" when only one is needed. When I clean up my tags, the thing has less to index/load and runs considerably faster.
  • Scot Hull
    Weird. My only complaint about responsiveness is that tiny lag between a touch and an action - sometimes it's long enough for me to attempt to repeat a command.
  • Michael Mercer
    Yeah I learned that with the AK100 - thats why I don't do playlists in the AK's, but I do in iPods.
  • Warren Chi
    This indicates to me that more RAM is essentially an easy, brute-force fix for them in the future.
  • Michael Mercer
    No doubt.
  • Scot Hull
    And not being an iPod is kind of a problem. That Apple UI is fast, responsive and totally intuitive. The AK isn't any of those things. "It Works" is about all I can say.
  • Warren Chi
    Scot, that's a lot more than can be said about many other audiophile DAPs
  • Scot Hull
    That's true, Warren.
  • Warren Chi
    But in terms of it being above the rest of the other "audiophile DAPs" - I think it does have that.
  • Scot Hull
    I don't think they nailed it at all. I think they opened the door. But I don't think they're quite done yet. It's an expensive piece of gear for what it is, and it's easily bettered by lower-cost special-purpose solutions.
  • Michael Liang
    The thing is gorgeous and is built like nothing else on the market today.
  • Michael Liang
    It's why I buy Apple products. Apple stuff are well built and sexy. The AK120 also meets those expectations for me. I'm kind of a hardware geek. I like things that are well built. Materials used, and has to feel solid.
  • Michael Mercer
    I'm with you there Michael. It's also why I use iDevices and am a Mac devotee. I love the design of the 120. I think it's clean, and I like the new volume pot protector! Not that I had any trouble with the knob on the AK100: For the record
  • Michael Liang
    I like the feel of an actual volume knob. More audio toys should have knobs.
  • Michael Mercer
    I do as well, the 120's knob is scored, so its easy to manage
  • Michael Liang
    Like a two knob car radio. LOL
  • Michael Mercer
    Agreed! Hey I think KnobFeel was onto something...
  • Michael Liang
    They are!
  • Scot Hull
    I think the knob is unnecessary. Unlike the Island, I don't think it adds anything from an aesthetic. Just feels a bit of an afterthought.
  • Warren Chi
    Somebody set us up the bomb, what u say?
  • Michael Mercer
    I hate mousing over gain, and that stems from my studio experience. I can't stand using a DAW without a controller with knobs. So I think it was a great touch, especially considering the demographic for this device. I think you can more easily dial-in the gain for your magic spot with the knob
  • Michael Liang
    Michael, my DJ mixer is all knobs by the way!
  • Scot Hull
    Physically, I think the 120's "fine". The acrylic is rather easily marked. And so is the screen.
  • Warren Chi
    For me, the AK120's design takes me back to the 80s. It's not exactly the same, but I remember trying to hunt down those Japanese-import Walkmans that were all metal and built like tanks. I feel the same about those as I do the AK120.
  • Michael Mercer
    Yeah my dad got one for me and my sister
  • Warren Chi
    Right? Those were the shit when we were kids.
  • Michael Liang
    Warren, That Walkman would have cost you a fortune!
  • Warren Chi
    It did! But what was the alternative back then? One of those yellow SPORT Walkmans? Everything else felt like a toy. And that's what I mean here. The AK120 doesn't.
  • Michael Liang
    I like the AK120's weight. Yeah that sounds silly, but it feels great in the hand. It feels like money was spent in all the right places. Quality!
  • Michael Mercer
    I'm with Michael on weight: I wanna feel the weight of something like this in my hand, feel its build quality.
  • Scot Hull
    I think the touchscreen was a nice touch - don't know why they didn't go whole-device though. That might have been interesting.
  • Michael Mercer
    Scot's got a good point
  • Warren Chi
    Scot, no, they did right I think. A larger screen would mean more power consumption.
  • Scot Hull
    About that ....
  • Michael Liang
    There's really no need to have it be all-screen. The UI is simple.
  • Michael Mercer
    I agree. Though a little more space woulda been great for scrolling through albums and such... But it's six and one for me... I'm happy with the size of the screen on the 120.
  • Michael Liang
    More screen means more risks of scratches and cracks. I would have to baby a bigger screen.
  • Scot Hull
    It's a touch screen. The icons are a little small for my fat, pork-sausage fingers,
  • Michael Liang
    LOL
  • Warren Chi
    Sucks to be you.
  • Michael Mercer
    LOL. I have the same problem with the iPhone
  • Michael Liang
    I think the issue may be that the touch screen isn't that accurate. Even with my average size fingers I have to tap the thing a few times sometimes.
  • Warren Chi
    Yeah, now that you mention it Scot, I do have a few quibbles with it here.
    1. The active areas where you grab and scroll should be a little bigger. Trying to grab that scrollbar can be a trying experience sometimes.
    2. That screen protector doesn't help in this case, as it dampens sensitivity.
  • Michael Mercer
    Agreed. I think the same could be said for many devices this size with touch screens!
  • Warren Chi
    So it's a mixed bag there right? First world problems I suppose.
  • Michael Liang
    I have a Fiio something here. It doesn't have a touch screen. Navigation on it sucks via Up/Down buttons. It's a turn off to use
  • Michael Mercer
    I find it so much better than the alternatives I've tried at shows. Thats why my expectations are as such. Yeah I come at things like the AK with different expectations than I do for Apple products...
  • Scot Hull
    But that's the bar, isn't it?
  • Warren Chi
    Wait, is it? Wait guys, hold on, is Apple the bar? For audiophile DAPs? Seriously, let's think about this.
  • Michael Liang
    Apple should be the bar for manufacturers
  • Scot Hull
    I think Apple is totally the bar - for user experience.
  • Michael Liang
    Set it high and you'll satisfy the average user
  • Michael Mercer
    Fuckin A. The iPod, like the Walkman, sparked a cultural revolution. One where our music followed us, and we could carry whole collections!
  • Warren Chi
    Yes, but I think Apple sacrifices for that. I gotta think that Apple gave up quite a bit for the experience. Are we to believe that Apple is so r*tarded they cannot go higher than 24/48k? Of course they can. But they are not targeting audiophiles, so they chose to devote hardware and software resources elsewhere, like the UI.
  • Michael Liang
    Apple doesn't want to play in 24/48. Because iTunes is not even real CD quality.
  • Warren Chi
    Right, so not an audiophile DAP then?
  • Scot Hull
    Apple functionality is awesome. Sound quality is meh.
  • Michael Mercer
    No, no Warren. Apple isn't re*tarded for that at all. Apple's demographic is the average user!
  • Warren Chi
    That's what I'm saying!
  • Michael Mercer
    And currently, their software/store can offer anything from major labels and indies too.
  • Warren Chi
    Right. In other words, Apple chose to devote more to the average user's experience.
  • Michael Mercer
    That's their business. They chose to serve the populace!
  • Scot Hull
    Yeah, they went for Mass Attack. The AK120 is a targeted device.
  • Warren Chi
    Right. Audiophile DAPs have a different audience
  • Michael Mercer
    Precisely.
  • Warren Chi
    LOL, that's what I'm saying!
  • Michael Liang
    so our only real complaint is the UI's responsiveness?
  • Warren Chi
    Yeah, for me. Because the thing is so dead-ass simple to use otherwise. So going back to what I said earlier... is Apple really the bar? For an audiophile's experience? I'm not talking about the average user.
  • Michael Mercer
    Trust me, if and when Apple sees an upward trend towards hi rez audio, and its achieving market penetration, they're on it. They're already on it. I can't confirm this of course, but I met this person at MacWorld and he told me that if hi rez audio was a big enough market they'd be supporting it now.
  • Michael Liang
    DAP's outside of iPods needs to have a differentiating factors.
  • Scot Hull
    Audiophile DAPs are a weird little niche. But they only work -- if they're *clearly better*.
  • Michael Mercer
    I wish I woulda' said that!
  • Warren Chi
    So, given that we're talking about audiophile DAPs, how you like the AK120 now, lol?
  • Scot Hull
    I think the AK120 is the best sounding DAP I've heard. No question.
  • Michael Mercer
    WELL SAID SIR! The AK120 is also the best DAP I've heard. That HiFiMAN (again forgetting model) got close, but to me, didn't quite get there
  • Warren Chi
    Scot, I agree completely. In terms of sound, it is (to me) clearly better.
  • Michael Liang
    Yup!
  • Scot Hull
    But the question I'm dancing around is, if I already bought my iDevice (and I'm an audiophile freak) do I really *need* to go out and get this device?
  • Michael Mercer
    That's a great question Scot and for me, that answer didn't arrive until this year!
  • Warren Chi
    Scot, try giving the AK120 back and see how that makes you feel.
  • Michael Liang
    The fact that I don't have to think about what file type I have before loading the AK120 is great! I drag, drop and load. Then I'm off to enjoying the thing.
  • Michael Liang
    And if you're an audiophile freak, you must have files higher resolution than 16/44.1k!
  • Michael Mercer
    That's not necessarily true Michael. Honestly, as a new music writer, most of my music is still at 44.1k/16-bit, or, now, many are even 44/24-bit. People may have owned SACD's - but not all audiophiles are computer audio people.
  • Warren Chi
    I have to second this. Just look at our friends John [Williams] and Bob [Levi]. The could care less about computer audio. But the sound is intoxicating to them. They geeked out on it without geeking out on it. They knew without knowing.
  • Michael Mercer
    Yes they were attracted to the sound of the music, and the scale of the dynamics from such a diminutive device!! I think that for the audiophile who's NOT a computer audio guy, this device could be a double-edge sword.
  • Michael Liang
    Wanna hear something silly? My first listen on the AK120 was through the new Beats Tour v2. I said to myself, man this thing kicks ASS!
  • Michael Liang
    The bass was so dynamic.
  • Michael Liang
    Back to the topic
  • Warren Chi
    LOL, Beats mentioned = SUCCESS!
  • Scot Hull
    Okay - so how about this - why does the screen go to sleep?
  • Warren Chi
    Scot, because it gets tired?
  • Michael Liang
    To save power. I have zero issues using it. You can set it to wait longer.
  • Scot Hull
    I can adjust it, but if I'm in a marathon session, the screen totally blanks out and I have to hold the on button to get it to respond. I keep thinking it's dead.
  • Michael Mercer
    Yeah, it bugs me admittedly. I don't like that function either.
  • Warren Chi
    There's actually a pretty funny blurb about that in their support docs. Nevermind, not important.
  • Michael Liang
    It shouldn't do that while it's playing though, only when it goes to sleep
  • Michael Mercer
    I have it set it to wait longer, like on all my iDevices
  • Michael Mercer
    I LOVE the battery-life!
  • Warren Chi
    OMG yes! The battery life is astounding!
  • Michael Mercer
    I've NEVER been too low on power on many trips with my AK100 - and now two trips with the AK120.
  • Scot Hull
    So how do I get album images to go with a drag-and-drop file from my Mac?
  • Michael Mercer
    Oh, I always have a JPEG image of the artwork within the FLAC album folder before loading it into the AK120.
  • Warren Chi
    In my periods of anal retentiveness, I spend some time trying to embed artwork into my files. So that's a bit less of a problem for me. As for playlists on Macs... I'm on PC.
  • Scot Hull
    PC works fine, I'm told.
  • Warren Chi
    Yup, I have no issues here.
  • Michael Liang
    I hate Windows.
  • Scot Hull
    And how do I get playlists to work on a Mac? Not intuitive. But not showstoppers
  • Michael Mercer
    I couldn't tell ya! I actually like the way the AK120 catalogs' things so I don't use playlists on my AK's. Just my iDevices!
  • Michael Liang
    I already have the artwork in the files when I import in iTunes.
  • Scot Hull
    But are you using a Mac, Michael L?
  • Michael Liang
    All my computers are Macs
  • Michael Mercer
    I've always been a Mac kid, but went PC for awhile... went back to Mac when I could afford it. OK, back to the Astell & Kern AK120??
  • Michael Mercer
    Sound?
  • Scot Hull
    Sound it is...
  • Michael Mercer
    I actually enjoy it with the User EQ off, or, thanks to Warren's suggestion: With their "Pro EQ" engaged! I'm psyched he turned me onto that feature.
  • Michael Liang
    While I like how the AK120 sounds, I find it to be colored.
  • Scot Hull
    I think the AK120 sounds "pretty good" - again, better than my iDevices and better than the AK100.
  • Michael Liang
    It's not ruler-flat.
  • Michael Mercer
    See personally I can't honestly say what ruler-flat ever is. I mean, people speak of studio gear being ruler flat, and my first record sounds colored through a ton of it!
  • Michael Mercer
    My ultimate sonic acid test is playing back the master files of our first record, just a little tech house track, but we wrote it, tracked it, mixed it, and mastered it. I know what that file sounds like - and the AK120 (and it sounds different with different cans) gets closer with the "Pro EQ" setting. I mean "closer" as in the details are closer to what I remember when writing the thing.
  • Michael Liang
    The fact is that the AK120 has a midrange bump is which is why I say its response is not ruler-flat.
  • Warren Chi
    I stand by what I said before, I have not heard a better sounding DAP.
  • Scot Hull
    I haven't fiddled with the EQ.
  • Michael Liang
    I haven't played with the EQ either.
  • Warren Chi
    Wait up, you guys have not used the Pro EQ? OMG, you guys don't know what you're missing.
  • Michael Liang
    I don't believe in EQing to make it sound "better".
  • Michael Mercer
    Oh, I don't either, believe in EQing to make anything sound "better" by the way. WINK
  • Michael Liang
    Scot, your thoughts?
  • Scot Hull
    About EQ? I haven't played with the settings - I tend to ignore them. They're band-aids. Tone controls.
  • Michael Liang
    Not about the EQ, about the AK's sound signature. No EQ applied.
  • Scot Hull
    I think the DAP sounds a little light-weight compared to the ALO International or The Island.
  • Michael Mercer
    I'm merely saying that playing back that particular track, and a ton of music I know and love, the AK120 did a fantastic job with the right cans. And I was anti-tone controls before the CEntrance HiFi-M8! LOL
  • Warren Chi
    No guys, wait up... the Pro EQ isn't like a traditional parametric where it's all about personal preference. There are no settings. It's on or off. Think of Pro EQ as more of a device profile... it flattens out the sound, and for lack of a better description, removes coloration.
  • Warren Chi
    BTW, I agree with you guys about EQing with regards to the User EQ. Trust me, I'm not talking about band-aids here.
  • Michael Mercer
    Well I'm referring to the sound both ways because their Pro EQ is, as Warren put it, not changeable. It's a button.
  • Scot Hull
    I'll check it out.
  • Michael Mercer
    Its not customizable Michael - so essentially you can "hear" the AK120 in these two differing ways...
  • Warren Chi
    The Pro EQ is part and parcel of their high-res "MQS" strategy... and it works. Without it, I agree with Liang that it's not reference level. A good listen, but not reference.
  • Scot Hull
    Driving my Audeze LCD-2, I get plenty of sound but the control is only so-so.
  • Michael Mercer
    I like both, but with the Pro EQ present, for me, it excited things but didn't exaggerate. Rather it breathed life into the sound. Does that make it easier to imagine?
  • Warren Chi
    Mercer, yes. That is exactly it. With the Pro EQ, we're now talking about something that we're more used to... something akin to our reference rigs.
  • Michael Mercer
    So I'm saying I enjoyed it with the stock, also agreeing it's warm and I like that - but for me the output with their Pro EQ setting activated was the most engaging.
  • Michael Liang
    I'm listening to the AK right now with Pro EQ ON
  • Michael Liang
    It's much better. Gone is the bump in the midrange.
  • Michael Liang
    More natural.
  • Michael Mercer
    RIGHT! LOL
  • Warren Chi
    The ProEQ is a LARGE part of what makes it an audiophile DAP.
  • Scot Hull
    Very interesting.
  • Michael Mercer
    SO glad you tried it while we're into this right now!! We all joked around and got our AK120's out Scot - before we raised ya on the radio.
  • Warren Chi
    Scot, if you have it handy, give it a quick listen. Everything starts to sound more like what you know and are used to. The difference in SQ and presentation is not trivial.
  • Michael Mercer
    I'm using Audeze's LCD-X with it right now.
  • Michael Liang
    Are you using it right now Scot?
  • Scot Hull
    No, I'm watching my beloved Redskins lose to the Vikings. It's sad.
  • Michael Liang
    IMHO, the Pro EQ setting should be the sound signature.
  • Michael Mercer
    Yeah. Warren, man you were DEAD ON!
  • Warren Chi
    It really should!
  • Michael Mercer
    YES
  • Michael Liang
    And the current EQ OFF should be the EQ sound.
  • Warren Chi
    Right. Why Pro EQ is off by default is beyond me.
  • Michael Mercer
    Astell & Kern, take notice... LOL
  • Warren Chi
    Audio360 has spoken! So let it be written, so let it be done. LOL!
  • Michael Mercer
    I mean the punchiness in these basslines off Four Tet's Beautiful Rewind flow far more naturally, they're silky...
  • Warren Chi
    The current default EQ should be renamed to... I dunno... "LameEQ" or something like that.
  • Scot Hull
    Where do you change the EQ? I just went and got it.
  • Michael Mercer
    Awesome.
  • Warren Chi
    Are you playing a track? If so, hit the "nut" icon in the bottom right. Then hit the level bars icon at the far left. Then choose Equalizer > Pro EQ. Flip the "switch" on and choose ProEQ
  • Michael Mercer
    Yeah, its just the switch... Lost in Daft Punk at the moment... in 88.2k/24-bit. I like that constant gold button on the home screen, to get into settings. But it should be clear where "settings" are!
  • Warren Chi
    From the main menu, it's the gear at the top right
  • Michael Mercer
    The gold gear.
  • Warren Chi
    Yup, the gold gear.
  • Scot Hull
    It's a little less muddled. Mids "fit" better now.
  • Michael Mercer
    Yeah thats another way I would describe it.
  • Scot Hull
    High's are a bit clearer, too.
  • Michael Mercer
    Yup, the balance.
  • Scot Hull
    Interesting. Love to see what this curve is actually doing to the output!
  • Warren Chi
    I would too. I asked Jimmy and Owen about it.
  • Michael Mercer
    Overall presentation is excitable, but also not necessarily more bumpy in that obvious mid area.
  • Warren Chi
    I got a response similar to we love you bro, but over our fucking dead bodies.
  • Michael Mercer
    Well all those shitty ear buds live sonically in the mids. Its just like the music business to try and make headphone records and fuck it up.
  • Scot Hull
    Everything is a bit crisper. still lively, though.
  • Michael Mercer
    Exactly Scot, ya got it.
  • Warren Chi
    Also, less congestion. Better detail and separation.
  • Michael Mercer
    BTW believe it or not, the Justin Timberlake 20/20 album is a sick headphone record! SMILE
  • Scot Hull
    Morcheeba is drowning out the sorrow of my team's loss.
  • Michael Mercer
    Oh, so sorry to hear about the loss. Wait, that the Redskins lost? LOL
  • Michael Mercer
    So Scot, anything you wanna say in closing out the sound?
  • Scot Hull
    Hail to the Redskins?
  • Warren Chi
    LOL, Scot is done with the sound.
  • Michael Mercer
    Hail to the Redskins... Maryland signing off.
  • Scot Hull
    I think this is a nifty little piece of kit! It's expensive, though.
  • Michael Mercer
    Yeah, agreed.
  • Michael Liang
    Yes.
  • Scot Hull
    And that worries me more than a little bit.
  • Michael Mercer
    It is, what's the price? I forgot, and nobody answered me before
  • Warren Chi
    Yeah, but expensive is where we [audiophiles] live right?
  • Scot Hull
    In this space, that money can go really interesting places.
  • Michael Mercer
    Yeah, I'm with Scot there.
  • Warren Chi
    I believe it's $1299.
  • Scot Hull
    It's $1300.
  • Michael Mercer
    Yeah so my AK100/CEntrance HiFi-M8 combo that I put up against the AK120 didn't cost so much more after all. That's alot of money today.
  • Michael Mercer
    But, fortunately for them, with the right marketing, they can hit the demographic that can spend that much on quality kit
  • Warren Chi
    Here's the thing. The AK120, plus a good CIEM, is basically a portable reference rig that doesn't leave too much to be desired... at least not from a portable rig.
  • Warren Chi
    And the fact that it is one device means that I'm not spending money on outboard DAC/amps, battery packs, etc...
  • Scot Hull
    But is it better than a laptop and a portable DAC?
  • Michael Mercer
    Oh, dude, better? Sorry, no fuckin' way!
  • Warren Chi
    Scot, it does go where those can't.
  • Michael Liang
    You can't put a laptop and DAC in your pocket and go for a walk.
  • Warren Chi
    Right
  • Scot Hull
    No, Warren -- I hear you. This is a different-ish market. The AK120 is still better than other DAPs, more dimensional. More detail. But still, a good bit behind what separates do.
  • Michael Mercer
    Not better than my MacBook Pro SSD runnin' Amarra through the ALO Island... NO. But that's for another time fellas...
  • Warren Chi
    It's a niche to be sure, as you said Scot.
  • Michael Mercer
    Yup, you can't put all that shit in your pocket. I carry around too much now! But the AK120 is one of those things in my messenger bag.
  • Scot Hull
    For what it is, I like it. I said it before and I'll say it again -- this is the best DAP I've heard.
  • Warren Chi
    AMEN
  • Scot Hull
    And the EQ feature may well kick it up a few notches more.
  • Warren Chi
    I can walk around with this "reference enough" rig and people are none the wiser.
  • Scot Hull
    Warren, people are on to you. Totally on to you.
  • Warren Chi
    TEH NOES!
  • Michael Mercer
    Hell, even my buddies who aren't audiophiles dig it.
  • Michael Liang
    The AK120 hits a lot of points for an audiophile. It's not perfect, but it's the best on the market today.
  • Warren Chi
    THAT! That right there!
  • Michael Mercer
    Is their next quote... for the next ad... Seriously though, agreed on all points. I trust my own rare hi rez music to the AK120, which says something to me. It does a beautiful job
  • Scot Hull
    I agree. This is a market that may see some very interesting moves in the next 6-9 months. Pono, Sony, and maybe even Apple and the iPhone 6
  • Warren Chi
    God I hope not... A new AK200, right after I buy this AK120, would piss me off a little bit.
  • Michael Liang
    LOL
  • Scot Hull
    lol
  • Michael Mercer
    LOL!!!
  • Warren Chi
    Mercer, you know they'll do it too! They ****** you with the AK120 right after you bought the AK100.
  • Michael Mercer
    Warren, holy shit, that's CLASSIC - and true - peace
  • Warren Chi
    Hey Mercer, lemme know when you decide to buy the AK120. I wanna make a news post the next day about the AK200 and scoop everybody, lol!
  • Michael Liang
    One BIG wish I have for the AK? I want an in-line remote control like the iOS stuff
  • Michael Mercer
    Michael, I'm with ya!
  • Warren Chi
    Any last words on the AK120?
  • Astell & Kern AK120 and MrSpeakers Alpha Dog
  • Michael Liang
    People should see and hear the thing before making any judgments
  • Warren Chi
    At the end of the day, I do not want to let this go - which is why I'm buying it. People can take from that what they will. But for my money, for my audio needs, hell just for my wants, this is the one right now.
  • Michael Mercer
    Indeed! Fellas, always a great chat. sorry the Skins got it tonight Scot.
  • Scot Hull
    The AK10 is out now. But that's another can o' worms. Hail to the Redskins... hail victory!
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