Since this has coming up off and on again, and I never clarified one of my earlier comments, I'd like to offer a perspective regarding "boycotts" and "failed" products... (regardless of the factual issue caused by having a high output impedance)
-- iriver is not a small boutique shop (like, for example, RWA) very strongly dependent on the small, specific community here at Head-Fi or similar sites. iriver is a very large international corporation, with a huge presence in the asian market specifically, they cater to anyone looking for "high end audio" in a portable player via their Astell & Kern sub-brand. Even if it didn't sell so well, for whatever reasons, they cater to the other, what, 95% of the market with their other audio products. A "boycott" isn't going to work.
And a 1/2 dozen or so people here voicing their opinion and intent to not buy their product is just a very small number of consumers exercising their right not to buy a product that doesn't meet their expectation, like anything else on sale. Everybody buying the RWAK mod is buying their product anyway, voiding of warranty notwithstanding, the sale is made.
-- By casual Head-Fi'ers I meant people like myself who are well aware of the theoretical shortcomings but decide that other factor matter more, or that it will objectively or subjectively NOT negatively affect us, unlike hardcore ones for whom the perceived flaw (in a graph or two) is the bottomline from which they won't budge (their choice, no problem) Not because we are simply ignorant (to put it more politely than icefalkon : )
-- Speaking of perceived flaw: even if it's a small percentage of the music-listening public all over the globe (iriver IS international), there are plenty of well-heeled listeners out there who will buy Astell & Kern's "MQS" marketing wholesale. Just watch the "Astell & Kern speaks for itself" video (AK site, no direct link due to internal redirect) These are the people it's aimed at, and their fans/listeners or similar-minded people.
Reviews like the PC Mag one, or WaPo one, or Star Tribune copy, or anything at some point in Wired magazine etc., don't care about any of the technical graphs etc. Their readers think ohm is the sound of the universe, impedance is a fancy word for something getting in the way and a rule of 8 has nothing to do with audio. They clearly hear the improvement over their iBuds hooked up to their phone/player and happily buy this Apple-style high-end product. They believe bigger is better, blissfully unaware that other than filesize there is little improvement to 24/192 files, even may be detrimental to SQ. It's just much better than their MP3s, not a "failed" product from their perspective. And they constitute a much larger customer base than the high-end (C)IEM subset of the hardcore Head-Fi'er subset of the dedicated forum-visiting "audiophile" subset... and from what AnakChan alluded to in an earlier, seem to snap them up as much as one would such an expensive product...
ADD.: I also think the rather distinctly non-audiophile inclusion of Bluetooth is a concession to that crowd, since Bluetooth in general cannot carry a really high-grade signal (even iriver make concessions in their updated FAQ) and frankly AFAIK even the best Bluetooth headsets are mediocre by audiophile standards...
Edited by TheGrumpyOldMan - 12/23/12 at 10:11pm