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The Ultimate Portable Hi-Fi Audio System
The Astell&Kern AK120 is the ultimate portable high-fidelity audio system capable of playing 24-bit, 192 kHz high-resolution audio, also referred to as Mastering Quality Sound (MQS). Since MQS delivers about 6.5 times more detail than a conventional CD (16-bit/44.1 kHz), listeners can enjoy more a realistic music experience, which is the closest to the original sound that the recording artist intended.
The AK120 portable music player offers true high-end, audiophile quality sound with playback of high resolution music formats. It supports WAV, FLAC, ALAC, AIFF MP3, OGG, APE, and AAC codecs and boasts a 24/192 Wolfson 8740 dual DAC. With its latest firmware update, the AK120 also offers playback of DSD and SACD files.
In addition to its duties as a high end portable player, the AK120 also excels as a USB DAC. It has a USB interface and an optical digital connection. The high-quality headphone stage lets you enjoy superior audio performance through your favorite pair of headphones or earbuds.
The AK120 is as pleasurable to operate as it is to listen to. It has an extremely intuitive user interface with a touchscreen, hard buttons, and an analog-feel volume control. The touchscreen control offers a 'single swipe' graphic equalizer that lets you easily customize the sound quality.
"Superb High Resolution Digital Sound Quality"
"Superb high resolution digital sound quality brings even old analogue recordings to life – fabulous," raves HiFiWorld.co.uk, which calls the AK120 "a serious digital player, not just a fabulous sounding portable."
"For anyone who demands the best sound quality currently available in a tiny package, the AK120 is now the ultimate device to own," notes Steven Stone in his August 8, 2013 review for HomeTheaterReview.com.
"Highly conducive to long-term satisfaction," reports John H. Darko in his DigitalAudioReview.net post for August 29, 2013. "Wunderbar."
CDs and MP3s Suffer from Compression
24-bit/44 kHz-to-192 kHz is the music industry norm used in the mastering process during sound production. However, high resolution music files have to be compressed down to 16-bit/44.1kHz in order to fit an album onto a CD due to the storage shortcomings of the medium, since CDs can hold only around 700 MB of data.
With MP3 files, the original high-resolution audio is compressed even further to 128 to 320 kbps for file-size convenience. This compression removes enormous amount of detail from the original recording.
For true high resolution recordings similar to the master recordings, you need to listen to the lossless audio formats supported by the AK120. The difference between these formats and standard CD or compressed MP3 files is startling and revelatory.
SACD and DSD Support with the AK120Thanks to a firmware update, the AK120 supports playback of high-quality recorded digital audio formats, SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc) and DSD (Direct Stream Digital). The average capacity of a SACD is 4.7GB, which is about seven times the capacity of a normal CD, and sound quality is improved by 64 times compared to a normal audio CD. CDs have a standard bitrate of 16-bit/44.1kHz. SACDs have a standard bitrate of 1-bit/2.82MHz.
Dual Wolfson DACs
The AK120 not only meets the standards of Hi-Fi audio, but also utilizes dual Wolfson WM8740 DACs, 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 up to 14 hours. The long playing time is made possible by the same ultra-low-power design pioneered with the AK100.
Using the AK120 as an External DAC
The AK120 isn't just a portable audio player. You can also take advantage of the amazing resolution of the dual Wolfson WM8740 chips by using the AK120 as an external DAC. Bring in your music via the optical digital connection or the USB interface.
Dual MicroSD Card Slots and Up to 192 GB Storage
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 192 GB of high-resolution audio with the AK120.
24-bit album recordings will soon be released with music files stored in microSD memory cards. Conveniently enjoy two albums at once through the dual memory card slots of the Astell&Kern.
For added versatility, the player also supports Bluetooth aptX streaming at CD quality.
Touch Equalizer Controlled by a Single Swipe
With the Astell&Kern and a nice set of headphones, you can change the equalization to suit various genres of music. Use the touch interface of the built-in five-band equalizer to achieve the sound quality you desire. An you can touch the screen to finely adjust the value of each band. The equalization circuitry can also be completely bybassed.
Robust and Sensitive Touch Screen
The 2.4-inch touchscreen and the integrated hardware control buttons on the right and left side of the make setup quick and easy. Now with the updated and intuitive graphic user interface of the AK120, you can find your favorite tunes quickly even without taking the player out of your pocket.
The updated GUI offers faster selection of large musical libraries. The main GUI consists of six key icons to help navigate and play your favorites quickly. Touching the upper part of the main menu instantly brings you back to the "Now Playing" screen. Access your current playlist in a flash by touching the left side of the "Now Playing" screen. Touching the "Option" icon brings up the other option settings, including the EQ settings.
Refined Design with an Analog Feel
The brushed aluminum body of the player reflects the refined craftsmanship inside and out. The rotary volume control wheel has the feel of a fine analog device rather than the cheaper feel of most portable audio device controls. The clever curved design of the volume wheel guard provides additional protection against accidental volume changes.
"With the right high-resolution source material, the AK120 easily delivers state-of-the-art sound quality."
"For anyone who demands the best sound quality currently available in a tiny package, the AK120 is now the ultimate device to own."
- Steven Stone, HomeTheaterReview.com, August 8, 2013
"In USB DAC mode it channels the laid-back and nuanced repose one hears when playing files direct from its internal storage; highly conducive to long-term satisfaction. This will no doubt please anyone looking to maximise its usefulness as the ultimate portable solution for travellers: USB DAC (w/ full size cans) in the hotel suite, portable media player (w/ IEMs) out in the street. Wunderbar."
- John H. Darko, DigitalAudioReview.net, August 29, 2013
"The company is technology driven; no one puts top Wolfson DACs into a portable player – but this player has them. They are serious audiophile items."
"Superb high resolution digital sound quality brings even old analogue recordings to life – fabulous. Its improved output amplifiers strengthen bass grunt when using the analogue headphone output to feed a stereo amplifier, making this a serious digital player, not just a fabulous sounding portable."
Astell&Kern Al Schmitt Interview