A Couple of Nice Improvements from Astell&Kern

Despite some issues with the user interface and Bluetooth operation, I love the AK120. It stores loads of high rez files; plays a nice wide variety of file formats; and, most of all, it sounds great. I can't wait for Astell&Kern to come out with their next, full-blown portable media player product—'cuz I desperately want to believe it will be even awesomer.

I was happy to read the following press release in my in-box this morning announcing the AK100 MK2 ($799) and limited edition AK120 Titan ($1499). Seems to me like two legitimate improvements.

The new AK100 MK2 has its output impedance lowered to 3 Ohms, which should cause it to behave better with multi-BA driver IEMs than the earlier, higher output impedance AK100. The new Titan has a sexier finish and doubles the internal storage to 128gB. Add two 64GB microSD card in the available slots and you've got room for 256GB of music in your pocket. Love it.

You can view and buy the AK100 MK2 at iriver's e-commerce site here, haven't been able to find the AK120 Titan on-line yet. (If you find it, please feel free to provide a link in the comments.)

Here's the full press release:

The AK100 Mark 2 and Limited Edition AK120 Titan Provide Audiophiles With Additional Portable High Resolution Music Options

Irvine, CA—Astell&Kern announces the release of the AK100 Mark 2 and Limited Edition AK120 Titan, providing audiophiles and music lovers a larger selection of portable high resolution music options on-the-go, whenever they are.

The Astell&Kern line was first launched in October 2012 in Korea. In one short year, the Astell&Kern brand has become synonymous with portable high resolution audio, won numerous praise from both the press and audiophile community and has won a number of awards.

The Astell&Kern High Resolution Portable Audio Player line includes:

AK120 Titan (MSRP $1,499)
The new AK120 Titan is a limited edition version of the popular AK120 player, available in limited quantities for a short period of time. The AK120 Titan features the same specs as the current AK120, but features a scratch-resistant, 5-layer hardened anodized coating, giving the AK120 Titan a silver/titanium look. The AK120 Titan also doubles the amount of internal on-board memory to 128GB, when combined with the dual microSD card slots each holding an additional 64GB microSD card, the player can provide a total of 256GB of music storage.

AK100 Mark 2 (MSRP $799)
The AK100 Mark 2 contains all of the same features as the current AK100, but lowers the output impedance to 3 ohms. This lower output impedance allows the AK100 to drive a greater range of headphones with more efficiency. The AK100 Mark 2 also includes a premium 100% genuine Italian leather case made by Buttero (a $50 value).

AK120 (MSRP $1,299)
The AK120, released in June 2013, is the top-selling Astell&Kern portable player. Recently named a 2014 CES Innovations Honoree, the AK120 contains dual (2) Wolfson WM8740 DACs, creating a true Dual-Mono setup that gives clear channel separation, broader dynamic range and wider soundstage. The AK120 features 64GB internal memory, with two (2) microSD card slots, each supporting 64GB microSD cards for a total of 192GB of music storage. The AK120 has an output impedance of 3 ohms, allowing the player to drive just about any power-hungry headphone thrown at it. A premium 100% Italian leather case by Buttero is included.

AK100 (MSRP $699)
The AK100 high resolution audio player was launched in December 2012 and continues to be one of the most popular and best-selling high resolution audio players in the world. The AK100 features 32GB of internal memory, with two (2) microSD card slots, each supporting 32GB microSD cards for a total of 96GB of music storage. The AK100 features a single Wolfson WM8740 DAC and output impedance of 22 ohms. With up to 16 hours of continuous music playback, the AK100 is the perfect player for the new audiophile. The AK100 will continue to be sold online and at high end audio retailers.

All four (4) models of the Astell&Kern portable player line support 24-bit, up to 192khz digital audio files, DSD and the most popular Apple lossless formats in addition to many other lossy music formats users may currently have.

Not only are the Astell&Kern players the best high-fidelity portable audio players on the market, they can also be used as an external DAC for any audio source. In addition to optical inputs, all four players offer input via the micro-USB jack, allowing the user to connect the Astell&Kern players to a computer to provide higher quality sound processing than most sound cards on the market.

The AK120 Titan will be available for a limited time online at iriverinc.com and Amazon.com and at select high-end audio retailers starting December 6.

The AK100, AK100 Mark 2, and the AK120 are currently available at high-end audio retailers and online at Amazon.com, Buy.com, ebay.com and www.iriverinc.com.

For a list of audio dealers that carry the Astell&Kern line, please visit http://www.iriverinc.com/support/wheretobuy.asp.

About iriver
iriver Ltd. is a global IT device company. Since its founding in 1999, iriver has become renowned for its product innovation, style-driven technology, and track record of market dominance. After producing many award-winning Portable Media devices, the company diversified its categories to include e-reader, Tablet PC, VoIP Phone, and more. Iriver is making its presence felt in the European e-reader market, including the U.K, Germany and Russia, as well as China. Iriver’s e-readers compete in both function and design, featuring iriver’s sleek signature style and rich multimedia content. For more information on iriver and its product lines, please visit: www.iriverinc.com.

More information about Astell&Kern can be found on the Astell&Kern Facebook page, Twitter feed and online at www.AstellnKern.com.

COMMENTS
coreying's picture

As an owner of an iRiver H140 that I modified with a 120GB HDD and have replaced the internal battery a few times, I am very interested in these Astell & Kern models.

But seriously, that volume knob is just silly. Not only does it make the shape awkward for use in small pockets, but it is a risk of damage from bumping and of unwanted volume adjustments. They've obviously realised this and tried to "protect" the knob on the AK120 with the "fenders". But seriously, just get rid of it. Give me a digital volume control which operate in relative dB's like Rockbox has :)

habu-joji's picture

The AK100M2 sounds very interesting, but up to 96GB of storage is way too small when considering the device as a long term purchase. 

 

What do you guys think of the Fiio X5 atm?

Dan S's picture

I agree, 96GB is too small, and I can't justify $1500 for the AK120 Titan's 256GB. It isn't much of a bump in size from the 160GB iPod I have now.

Speaking of my iPod, it's full up. This size of player has been around for like 5 years -- where are the 500GB options? Why is no one interested in selling a larger player?

coreying's picture

@ DanS - the HDD based MP3 players use a 1.8" HDD. As the industry is moving away from HDD's they haven't continued to develop these size drives. The largest available is only 320GB, although companies like Apple have stuck with the smaller 160GB drive. I can't see the market going back to these HDD based players.

Dan S's picture

The 160GB iPod I have is one of those thicker ones, which I think can accommodate two 1.8" hard drives. So it could theoretically contain 640GB if it used two 320GB drives.

Or someone could come up with a player that has a big ole chunk of solid state memory. Certainly you could manufacture one for $1500.

Point being, the manufacturers seem to think that there's no market for a player that big. And they might be right, but I personally would buy a larger player if I could.

coreying's picture

No, it can only fit a single 1.8" HDD. You can fit a 2.5" HDD in less space than you can 2 x 1.8" HDD's, and by using a 2.5" HDD you then open up capacities of 694GB in the same thickness that you can only fit 220GB on a 1.8" HDD (or 440GB if you had two 1.8" drives taking up more area).

I do get what you're saying though. I just don't think anyone is going to go back to HDD's. I also feel that its disappointing that you need to speed $1499 to get a flash-based player with 128GB of storage!

habu-joji's picture

After a quick look on head-fi, it seems that both the Ak100 and the AK100 MKII can support 64go microsd cards (higher capacities have not yet been tested as of today).

Beware though, since it's not official there is no garanty your microsd card will work, if you're interested in those players, I'd recommend checking head-fi for tested cards.

Speakerphile's picture

Personally, I just don't feel that the UI(Design as well as responsiveness) or the screen quality are anywhere near where theyneed to be to demand the price that they do.  I am really interested, even at that price, if they made some major improvements in these areas.  

Bobs Your Uncle's picture

It's always interesting as well as amusing to read about this kind of kit. I realize that audiophilia can be an expensive hobby, but seriously. I'd love to get my hands on a BOM for these puppys. Going in blind as to the manufacturer & solely using price as an indicator, one could certainly be forgiven for thinking they were slapped together by Apple.

Timoman's picture

Tyll:

I encourage you to try out the HiFiMan HM-900 PMP and give us a comparison to your beloved AK 120.  That would be very useful to the portable audio community.

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