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Beautifully made and phenomenal sound

A Review On: Astell & Kern AK120

Astell & Kern AK120

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Pros: Full 24 bit support, dual dac's, aesthetic appeal

Cons: Convuluted menus, cost

I first listened to the AK100 at the London meet as Axell Grell - Chief sound engineer at Sennheiser had been raving about them and after a listen I was sold. So when the AK120 was released, I knew I'd have to get one. Absolutely beautiful little player. It's just a gorgeous chunk of tech that feels good to hold. For me personally tech has to have form as well as function and the AK120 doesn't disappoint on either front. SQ is the best that I've heard and I'd rate it higher than the DX100. Spending 1k plus on a high end DAP is going to be a big decision for anyone including me, however I'm more than happy with my decision.

With 64GB on board storage and the option to expand this via 2 x 64GB Micro SD cards is great, with the size of my ALAC / FLAC files. Overall plenty of space and the option to add micro sd's as needed.

Have tried the AK120 with my cans- didn't like it with my Amperiors, but it does really makes my Momentum's and IE800's shine. Enough power to run my HD800's, which is a bonus.

After a week, the soundstage has really opened up and the sound is just incredible. MIds are crystal clear, lows are precise and the highs aren't too sparkly. As with all decent equipment, the quality of recordings that you feed into the unit will have a big effect. The AK120 is designed to handle full 24/96 files. I have very few 24 bit files, as most are 16 bit and sound is phenomenally good. Out of interest, i tried a couple of 256kbps AAC files and sound is acceptable.

Overall really pleased with this gem of a DAP and happy to recommend unreservedly.


Whys is it good to have dual DACs?
Dual DAC designs offer a lower noise floor and better stereo separation. A lot of high end DAC's use 2 or even 4 DAC's.
Actually, portable players have only ONE Dac but more and more have Dual Dac CHIPS (one for each channel). Never heard of any portable player with more than two chips but I have seen some Dacs and CD players with up to 4 Chips per channel (and I'm not talking Frito lay here ; )
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