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Astell&Kern stuff

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I think I'd want one if my Sony D-EJ2000 went kaput.

 

Has anybody tested one? Cry me an iRiver: http://www.innerfidelity.com/content/couple-nice-improvements-astellkern

 

I'm a little confused at the specs – shouldn't all the players support 64GB micro SD capacities?

Edited by HiWire

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I can't understand paying that much for a portable player.

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Worst yet, they are coming out with the AK140 as a successor to the AK120.  Price probably will be even higher.  It is ridiculous how much people are paying for portable gears.  I'm more interested in the new Sony NW-ZX1.  Many users have reported an excellent sound quality on par with the AK120 for $400 less.  The ZX-1 sports 128GB of internal memory and runs a Sony music apps on Andriod 4.1.  I own a yesteryear model and I'm very happy with it so far.

 

Here's the link to the Sony NW-ZX1 page in Japanese:

 

http://www.sony.jp/walkman/lineup/zx1/

Edited by purk

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That looks interesting, Purk. I had a Sony mp3 player and I loved its sound. I've seen the translated version of that page. Looks like it will play up to 24/192 in FLAC and possibly ALAC too. Any idea if it can keep as well an additional SD card to increase capacity?

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What bothers me about players nowadays is how little internal memory they usually have (I don't like the hassle of memory cards). I'd trade a high-endish sound for moar memory anyday. So that ZX-1 with 128Gb seems really nice, but I wonder if I'd prefer it to my 160Gb iPod Classic synchonized with my iTunes library at home – nothing more convenient – and mating with the Sony PHA-1 when I feel like I need more performance.

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That looks interesting, Purk. I had a Sony mp3 player and I loved its sound. I've seen the translated version of that page. Looks like it will play up to 24/192 in FLAC and possibly ALAC too. Any idea if it can keep as well an additional SD card to increase capacity?

 

Unfortunately no.  Like Apple, Sony does not support expansion slot.  128GB should be good for over 100 albums in hi-rez though.  I own numbers of newer walkman(s) and the transfer rate is very respectable and near class 10 speed.  Sound wise, I've found them to be just as good as those AK players in standard redbook playback but with much better UI and considerably cheaper.

 

 

What bothers me about players nowadays is how little internal memory they usually have (I don't like the hassle of memory cards). I'd trade a high-endish sound for moar memory anyday. So that ZX-1 with 128Gb seems really nice, but I wonder if I'd prefer it to my 160Gb iPod Classic synchonized with my iTunes library at home – nothing more convenient – and mating with the Sony PHA-1 when I feel like I need more performance.

 

If you want to go amp-less with CIEMs, the Sony is tough to beat.  The iPod line has slightly better UI, but my previous generation Sony DAPs (Sony NWZ-F807 & Z1070) are running neck to neck Justin's Pico DAC/Amp combo.  My iPhone & iPod Touch just can't keep up sound wise.  Their secret is the "S-master" digital amplifier module.   I find "copy" and "paste" directly onto the player more convenient though.

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If you want to go amp-less with CIEMs, the Sony is tough to beat.  The iPod line has slightly better UI, but my previous generation Sony DAPs (Sony NWZ-F807 & Z1070) are running neck to neck Justin's Pico DAC/Amp combo.  My iPhone & iPod Touch just can't keep up sound wise.  Their secret is the "S-master" digital amplifier module.   I find "copy" and "paste" directly onto the player more convenient though.

 

Good to know Purk, maybe I can give it a try. Now that I'm pretty much finished with my home rig and with a Roxanne in order, I'm thinking about maximizing my portable rig, but within acceptable levels (no 1K portable player for me!), so I guess that one's worth trying!

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I've got the AK100 and while I love it, it absolutely needs the pico slim amp to make it competitive to the HiFiman 901 and even then the 901 has the edge in most categories. 

 

I am pretty optimistic about Sony's entry into computer audio and HiRes DAPs, if they can get me in the ballpark of the 901 sound with the interface advantage of the AK then I am sold. 128 gb is pretty solid although I would love an expansion slot. 

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That looks interesting, Purk. I had a Sony mp3 player and I loved its sound. I've seen the translated version of that page. Looks like it will play up to 24/192 in FLAC and possibly ALAC too. Any idea if it can keep as well an additional SD card to increase capacity?

 

Looking quickly through the info on the Japanese page, it does indeed play FLAC (24/192) and ALAC.  Now I'm suddenly interested.  Frick.

 

List of supported audio format -

MP3, WMA, ATRAC, ATRAC Advanced Lossless, WAV, AAC, HE-AAC, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF

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Sony is also big enough to dictate or manufacture custom parts (e.g. ICs, etc.). You can only get so far with off-the-shelf parts and some of the "good ones" have gone out of production. That and the small market size probably account for the Astell&Kern price structure– it has been shown, over and over, that the market for high end consumer audio is outside most manufacturers' comfort zones (compare with HiFiMAN, for example, or V-Moda's Vamp Verza).

 

Their re-interest in portable hi-fi is a good sign.

Edited by HiWire

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I tried the current A&K players briefly.  They sure look nice, but one would be much better served by spending the money on really good portable headphones/IEM's instead. BTW, do people really carry around a portable music player IN ADDITION to their cell phones?  These days I'm happy enough with my Samsung Android phone playing music through my trusty old Ultimate Ears  ^-^

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They sure look nice, but one would be much better served by spending the money on really good portable headphones/IEM's instead.

 

Core of the issue for me. I get sort of crossed when I see people with a 1K+ DAP and a regular 500USD IEM or even worse sometimes. Inverse priorities I guess, they seem to get attracted by the "cool gadget" factor more than anything else.

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Do people really carry around a portable music player IN ADDITION to their cell phones?

 

I use a 4GB third-generation iPod Shuffle + Klipsch S4i in addition to my Sony D-EJ2000 CD player + Alessandro MS-1.

 

It's the teeny-tiniest.

Edited by HiWire

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I do carry a 64GB iTouch and the telephone. I think the iTouch is 2ndG so it can't even support iOS 7. The telephone doesn't have such memory.

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I wish Apple would upgrade to a 320GB iPod Classic. Their current lineup really doesn't work for my music collection (320 kb/s AAC) – about 300 CDs.

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Thanks! I ripped my CDs in AAC for the Shuffle, but I'd want to go with lossless if I was upGradoing.

 

Also, I just found out Sony still sells a bargain-fi D-EJ011 portable CD player at $30 – it runs on 2 AA batteries. Perfect as a backup for me. I kind of love that they think "Full-Circle Design – Hand Strap – 20-20000Hz, 1/-2dB" are still considered relevant marketing points.

 

I've been having problems finding and charging gumstick batteries on my D-EJ2000.

Edited by HiWire

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300 CDs at 320bit should fit on a 64gb iPod touch easily.

Yep, but I'm pretty lazy and usually in a hurry, so I feed it with ALAC and when I've listened to all the albums, I renew the load.

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Way too much money for a yet another DAP that uses Wolfson 8740 DAC.

 

 

The HM-901 is worth it sound quality wise, but the UI sucks bad.

 

If I travelled all the time, I'd probably prefer the AK120, simply for it's smaller size and far superior UI.  Also, it works with a PC with asynchronous USB connection without the use of any dongles or dock, unlike the HM-901.

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The AK120 is just overpriced IMO.  Too expensive for almost $1300. Worst yet they are coming up with something even more expensive for the AK140.  Some folks even modding the AK120 by bypassing heaphones out completely and upgrading the DAC from dual 8740 to 8741.  Total cost is around $1600 for a DAP without a usable headphones out.  This is done to maximize the lineout to feed a portable amp.  Crazy isn't it?  

Edited by purk

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Will check out the new AK240 at CES this week.  I really hope it's not yet another Wolfson inside.  Although I'll be really surprised if it has ESS Sabre chip or better inside.

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http://www.astellnkern.com/

 

 

Spec taken from their site:

 

  • Native Double-rate DSD(up to 5.6MHz)
  • Dual CS4398 DAC for True Dual-Mono
  • Balanced Output
  • Aircraft Grade Duralumin Body
  • Wi-Fi Music Downloading
  • 256GB, plus 1 microSD slot

Ooops....price is around $2400.00 wow from the other site!

Edited by purk

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