T.H.E Show Newport 2015: Astell&Kern AK380 and AK Jr.

Astell&Kern AK380 ($3499) and AK Jr. ($499)
I truly fell in lust with the Astell&Kern AK240 when I reviewed it. It wasn't the sound quality that did it (though the sound quality was fine as frogs hair), it was the feel of the thing—it's kind of like having a stealth fighter in your pocket. Its angular design, carbon fibre back, and milled aluminum build is simply stellar. Also contributing to a great experience is the fabulous user interface and very trick set of feature including wireless streaming from a home server, well...it's simply the coolest digital audio player on the planet...or was.

At $3499 the new AK380 is the Lamborghini of the digital audio player world. An item most of us will only lust after. But for those few folks with the extraordinary means, or audio professional needs, this indeed may be a very satisfying and worthwhile purchase. Improvements over the AK240 include:

  • 200 Femto-second jitter reference clock delivering 30ps word clock jitter.
  • Uses two Asahi Kasei Microdevices AK4490 DAC chips capable of paying both PCM and DSD files natively.
  • Increases PCM support to 32bit/384kHz.
  • Larger 4-inch, 480x800 touch screen display.

Not quite yet available are a desktop dock, CD ripper, and headphone amp backpack for those hard to drive cans. I had a nice hard look at the Ak380 in its dock, and I've got to say it's one of the coolest looking devices I've seen—all the angular surfaces make it look both righteously posed and mischievously askew simultaneously. I'm in lust, go to the AK380 product page for more details.

The AK Jr. on the other hand is simply a dandy looking aluminum digital audio player. Reverting somewhat to the AK player roots, the AK Jr. is a Linux based DAP with an improved user interface over the original first generation AK100. Other improvements are: a larger display; smaller size; output impedance reduced from 22 Ohms to 2 Ohms; and DSD support (converted to PCM prior to DAC). Check out the AK Jr. page for more info.

Here's Jimmy Moon to tell us more about the two players.


Click here if you can't see the video.

tony's picture

Seems like a rather complete Music System, maybe a good option to running around with a Mac Laptop, I wonder if it has a Pre-out to drive Active Monitor Loudspeakers?

What's not to like? Price?, hmm, maybe.

It's got Korean Engineering and build quality.

Globe Travelers never had it so good ( musically ).

"I'd've" bought "on the spot" if I was there. ( impulse outa-control disorder )

Look at this A&K guy's world beating smile, he knows they own it now-a-dayz.

GM bough one of the Korean Car Companies to build our small cars in Lake Orion,Mi. These guys have Japanese Quality Levels, Germanic Engineering Prowess and super competitive pricing. These are the guys to beat if you're gonna try to be No.1 .

Tony in Michigan

Long time listener's picture

What a phrase! Perhaps the love of music will make poets of us all...

Bennyboy's picture

Excuse me while I piss myself laughing.

drblank's picture

It'll still be $3499 after your done pissing on yourself. Self urination seems to be a common thing in the high end audio industry. ;-)

Bennyboy's picture

Sorry, still laughing. It might be a while. Put the kettle on.

Tyll Hertsens's picture
Do you laugh at Ferraris too? Heck no I can't afford one of these, but there are folks with money who sure might like to. Why the hate just 'cuz it's not for you?
Magick Man's picture

It's just money, and I'd rather someone buy a $3500 DAP than waste that money on blow. Besides, who said summit-fi audio is reasonable? It's always been about outrageous, envelope-pushing gear, and the people buying such products are footing the bill for the innovation (R&D isn't cheap) that goes into your $200-500 players down the road (like for instance, the slick little AK Jr). So maybe, rather than kicking sand in their camel's face, you should thank them instead? ;)

Bennyboy's picture

Yes, of course I laugh at Ferraris - they are for people with small penises and ego issues.

No 2 ways about it mate - $3.5k for a portable music player is just fleecing the gullible and rich. Maybe we should start referring to such audio tech adopters as the 1%?

tony's picture

You're Car Radio system is about $5,000!, we bury it in a Trim Level so we don't have to have glove boxes big enough to carry Depends.

Tony in Michigan

Bennyboy's picture

Sorry Tony, I don't drive and I don't own a car. I don't know what Depends are either, not being American.

tony's picture

Well, you're saving uber money by not owning a car, you should be able to buy the A&K stuff, you'll look great holding an A&K Jr. sitting on that Bus.

"Depends" are throw-away diapers for people that Piss their Pants. You did complain about that!

Not American, hmm, we Americans are Isolationists that don't read "Foreign" Press ( unless we have to ). However, this is the best of the Headphone sites, no matter where you're stuck living.

You must be European, you're writing is too clear and concise for an Asian or god forbid a "Canadian".

Thanks for writhing back. It's nice to hear from you young aspiring Audiophiles.

Tony in Michigan

Bennyboy's picture

Unfortunately Tony, any money I do save not driving is spent on the pesky business of staying alive here in London. That's 'London, England' as you Americans like to call it ;-)

So if A&K want to do an Austerityphile version for a fiver, I'm all ears. But until then....

tony's picture

I lived in England ( Sheffield ) a while back, I miss the TV, BBC Radio and the Newspapers: all produced for a literate population.

Our media here is written and produced with four letter words for a fourth grade level of understandings.

Well, you Brits do have Chord stuff and it's at your "fiver" price points but I don't know if you are allowed to have music "out in public".

Nice to see Boris and the NEW Bicycle Expressways being built in London, I may have to move back just so I can ride the bicycle instead of our horribly expensive Auto transports.

I hope you keep "tighter" control of your expanding Banking Industry ( un-like us ), these buggers will wreck you if you give them a chance, don't let em make too much salary or bonuses ( not that I'm loathing greed & profit ). Here in the States the top 10% of the Population own 70% of the wealth, they're putting the squeeze on all us Astell&Kern and Chord buyers.

Nice hearing from you,

Tony in Michigan