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post #5851 of 8638
Quote:
Originally Posted by CraftyClown View Post

Has anyone paired up the Heir audio 8.As un-amped to a stock AK100. I have just purchased a pair and am waiting for them to be re-shelled and I'm curious as to how I might expect them to sound (how badly they are effected by the AK100s high output impedance)

 

 

I have tried my friend's Heir 8.0A with my AK100 Gold.. and, i'm impressed (and goes beyond what i expected).

post #5852 of 8638
Ha ha, yes I think it was the excitement that went to my head Jim. I have the AK100 packed and ready to ship out the door and I'm mentally preparing myself for the 120s arrival. The missus is away visiting family in Spain and I'm on an audiophile spending spree. I'm having a whale of a time... My wallet on the other hand may need mouth to mouth resuscitation when I've finished with it smily_headphones1.gif
post #5853 of 8638

Having spent some time with the MS-AK100 which were loaned to me, I have to say that I really miss them now and that is a testament to the product. However, this is not an in depth review of any sort and I don't feel it would be fair either because I haven't spent significant time listening to it, by this I mean total time due to the fact that I work. 

 

I have had some time with the stock AK100, the stock AK120 and the gold AK100, along with the MS-AK100. I have not tried the RWAK100. Also, please note that because I spent the most time with the MS-AK100, it is the very reason why I've written more about it and for no other reason.

 

Let me try to put into place what I felt about each in a table for the heck of it (though this is limited entirely to what I felt stood out for me and briefly):

 

Model Brief Thoughts
AK100 (stock) Under powered generally speaking and thereby severely limiting any "potential".
AK100 (Gold) Spacious, laid back and loose on the bass.
MS-AK100 Lush, tight bass with more impact and slightly less staging.
AK120 Beautifully sweet 3D presentation.

 

So perhaps I should write a little more than just a table. But again, this will be brief.

 

AK100 (stock)

 

The stock AK100 I feel, is severely limited due to its output impedence. Whilst it may work with some IEMs, it may not work with others. While it may drive all IEMs loudly, it may not drive the IEM properly e.g. a lack of bass. There is a difference. Driving it loud means you get everything, but the instrument separation combined with lack lustre note presenation will start to grate. And for that very reason, the AK100 on its own will not be for me. I could run it out with an amp, but for me, that's not an option because I'm looking for a DAP that works on its own and thereby remains "portable", by my definition. This doesn't mean it is a bad piece of gear, it just means that if you have a ton of gear, ensuring the AK100 doesn't have matching issues with at least one piece of your IEM/CIEM/HPs is quite unlikely. 

 

AK100 (gold)

 

Bling. That's the one thing that definitely stands out. But sonic qualities, well, it takes the music just a tad further back and ensures you have a little more of a laid back presentation. This will depend on your preference. If you have an IEM that is a little too forward i.e. "in your face", then this might help to "tame" it down a little. In addition to that, the bass was a little on the "loose" side. Personally, I felt it was pretty loose and in a noticeably significant way, especially if you test it side by side with the MS-AK100. If you use IEMs that present tight bass, then the gold AK-100 may just be alright. But if you use something like say, the IE8/80, you may have issues. However, this is all down to preference and for that, this isn't for me.

 

Oh. And I just don't like gold either. I'm more of a silver person, or black for that matter. 

 

MS-AK100

 

I'll have to admit that I had the most issues initially figuring out the differences with this when I initially had it on demo. The differences weren't apparent to me till I did one of two things. First, I used my IE8s with them. Secondly, I spent at least a week solely listening to the MS-AK100 before using anything else.

 

So with the first experiment, the main thing I noticed immediately was how tight, and how much it reigned in the bass of the IE8 in respect quality and tightness. With the second experiment, this may be a result of brain burn in, but what is good about it is that with that, I feel I'm able to pick out more about what I'm using especially if I'm having trouble adjusting initially. The difference I noticed was the immediate drop in the lusher and warmer sound signature. Compared to the AK100 (gold) for example, the staging is brought in a little in the sense that there is more intimacy. whilst the bass I felt was tighter, which may not necessarily be a good thing depending on what you use with it, I felt that details were ever so slightly veiled or put back due to the warmer sound presentation. In respect of vocals, I felt the MS-AK100 was able to present it in a more realistic fashion where I'd be able to hear the strain and the air in the voice. For example, I'd be able to hear a raspy voice or vocal strain in the voice when the singer hits higher notes. Along with the lush, comes weight and that can be a good thing when it comes to the piano, and that's another plus point from the mod for me. 

 

So on that note, what I like is the lushness of the presentation but I would still like to maintain the details and bass, not to leave it loose, but to have it there without it either colouring the sound or being emphasised to such an extent that I'd go mad. That said however, I do feel at times that the bass is perfect (please bear in mind this is with the 1Plus2) with some tracks and that I wouldn't have it any other way so this is a tough call for me. The Mezzo mod hasn't taken away the bass but tightened it up. I'm just wondering out loud if I want a little more bass out of it for myself with my 1Plus2s for example. 

 

Again, all this is about matching, sound wise. It is about mixing and matching to some extent to suit what you have, or to suit your tastes. What I will admit is that I do miss not having them with me now so much so that I'm looking to get one for myself, but we will see what happens in time to come. 

 

AK120

 

The first crazy thing to note is that this is double the price, almost, of the stock AK100. Is there a big jump in sound quality? That's up to you to define and figure out, but I'd like to think there is a difference. Does the price difference match the sonic differences, I don't think so. However, what I will say is that they have solved the impedence issue that was present from the stock AK100 which can only be a good thing moving forward. On top of that, they have two dacs in the AK120 instead of one, which may have led to the AK120 being double the price, who knows?

 

Jokes aside, as an overall package, if you already have the AK100 modded, or if the stock AK100 works for you as is, then I'm not sure the AK120 is exactly necessary. To be fair, any crazily priced item is usually never justified, not unless you peak into an enthusiast's mind, then perhaps, they'd justify it in the least objective fashion possible. Seriously though, I think the one thing that really stood out for me with the AK120 is the overall 3D presentation from it. It was the best I've heard yet, and that's where I feel it improves quite a fair bit on the other AK models. This is the one thing I'd really like in my DAP and if the MS-AK100 for example, was able to achieve this, I'd be hard pressed to not get the MS-AK100. I've used some analogies before, but if I had to think of another one for this, the AK120 seems to be able to create a ring around you that is almost perfect without a glitch in the loop whilst the MS-AK100 for example, is a little more angular instead of circular. 

 

All that being said, I'm not sure I'm in a position to say that I could afford the AK120. And it has less "body" than the MS-AK100 for example as well. On the other hand, I did feel that the AK120 for whatever reason, pulled out a little more bass from my IEMs. But I wasn't exactly sure I liked what it did with it. 

 

Conclusion

 

I think from all this, it is important to look at your individual preferences, along with what IEMs you use the DAP with, and then to tailor it according to what you want. It is always a little give and take here and there. I'd take the lush sound from the MS-AK100, the vocals of the MS-AK100, detailing of the AK120 along with the soundstage presentation of the AK120 (I really really liked that); to top that off, I'm undecided on the bass part. What I will end off with is to encourage you to listen to equipment, to figure out what you like or dislike about something and then to simply focus on whether you enjoy your music. If your head and heart tells you that using this particular DAP, whatever it is, works and keeps you happy, then use that. If you can't justify paying out x dollars for something, then don't. If you can, go for it. Music ultimately is meant to be enjoyed, that's why musicians perform after all. Differences in any item you use may be subtle or may be huge, it just depends on how much you value it.

 

Cheers.


Edited by cravenz - 6/15/13 at 6:19am
post #5854 of 8638
Quote:
Originally Posted by CraftyClown View Post

Ha ha, yes I think it was the excitement that went to my head Jim. I have the AK100 packed and ready to ship out the door and I'm mentally preparing myself for the 120s arrival. The missus is away visiting family in Spain and I'm on an audiophile spending spree. I'm having a whale of a time... My wallet on the other hand may need mouth to mouth resuscitation when I've finished with it smily_headphones1.gif

 

 

Congrats Buddy,,best way to go about itbeerchug.gif

 

Get straight to the listening rather than justifying the purchase LOL

post #5855 of 8638
Quote:
Originally Posted by spkrs01 View Post

 

 

Congrats Buddy,,best way to go about itbeerchug.gif

 

Get straight to the listening rather than justifying the purchase LOL

 

Ha ha, it really is the only way to do it. If I stopped for ten seconds to think about the logic of my spending some times, I'm pretty sure I would develop a stress related condition eek.gif

 

I'm still eyeing a pair of your 1plus2s for one of my next purchases. I may need to wait until the missus turns her back again, before I do that though biggrin.gif

post #5856 of 8638
Quote:
Originally Posted by CraftyClown View Post

 

Many would argue that there are absolutely no gains in fidelity above 24/96 anyway. So the lack of 192 doesn't seem like any kind of hardship.

Agree... I myself always choose 24/96 when booth 24/96 and 24/192 are available for download.  But... the problem is when you already have some 24/192 files, the DAC will either don't play them or, more likely, downsample them... which is never good for the audio (the less you manipulate the date, the better). 

post #5857 of 8638

ordered AK120, so if anybody (especially within Europe) interested in 2,5 months old AK100 with Russian patch and leather case just take a look in my sale thread :-)

post #5858 of 8638
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baele View Post

ordered AK120, so if anybody (especially within Europe) interested in 2,5 months old AK100 with Russian patch and leather case just take a look in my sale thread :-)

 

Wow, that almost sounds like me talking on your sale thread.... Erm, it IS me! biggrin.gif

post #5859 of 8638
Quote:
Originally Posted by CraftyClown View Post

 

Wow, that almost sounds like me talking on your sale thread.... Erm, it IS me! biggrin.gif

hope you are not angry beerchug.gif

post #5860 of 8638
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baele View Post

hope you are not angry beerchug.gif

 

ha ha, no of course not. It actually took me a couple of seconds to realise when I read it  biggrin.gif

 

Good luck with the sale.

post #5861 of 8638
Quote:
Originally Posted by cravenz View Post

Having spent some time with the MS-AK100 which were loaned to me, I have to say that I really miss them now and that is a testament to the product. However, this is not an in depth review of any sort and I don't feel it would be fair either because I haven't spent significant time listening to it, by this I mean total time due to the fact that I work. 

 

I have had some time with the stock AK100, the stock AK120 and the gold AK100, along with the MS-AK100. I have not tried the RWAK100. Also, please note that because I spent the most time with the MS-AK100, it is the very reason why I've written more about it and for no other reason.

 

Let me try to put into place what I felt about each in a table for the heck of it (though this is limited entirely to what I felt stood out for me and briefly):

 

Model Brief Thoughts
AK100 (stock) Under powered generally speaking and thereby severely limiting any "potential".
AK100 (Gold) Spacious, laid back and loose on the bass.
MS-AK100 Lush, tight bass with more impact and slightly less staging.
AK120 Beautifully sweet 3D presentation.

 

So perhaps I should write a little more than just a table. But again, this will be brief.

 

AK100 (stock)

 

The stock AK100 I feel, is severely limited due to its output impedence. Whilst it may work with some IEMs, it may not work with others. While it may drive all IEMs loudly, it may not drive the IEM properly e.g. a lack of bass. There is a difference. Driving it loud means you get everything, but the instrument separation combined with lack lustre note presenation will start to grate. And for that very reason, the AK100 on its own will not be for me. I could run it out with an amp, but for me, that's not an option because I'm looking for a DAP that works on its own and thereby remains "portable", by my definition. This doesn't mean it is a bad piece of gear, it just means that if you have a ton of gear, ensuring the AK100 doesn't have matching issues with at least one piece of your IEM/CIEM/HPs is quite unlikely. 

 

AK100 (gold)

 

Bling. That's the one thing that definitely stands out. But sonic qualities, well, it takes the music just a tad further back and ensures you have a little more of a laid back presentation. This will depend on your preference. If you have an IEM that is a little too forward i.e. "in your face", then this might help to "tame" it down a little. In addition to that, the bass was a little on the "loose" side. Personally, I felt it was pretty loose and in a noticeably significant way, especially if you test it side by side with the MS-AK100. If you use IEMs that present tight bass, then the gold AK-100 may just be alright. But if you use something like say, the IE8/80, you may have issues. However, this is all down to preference and for that, this isn't for me.

 

Oh. And I just don't like gold either. I'm more of a silver person, or black for that matter. 

 

MS-AK100

 

I'll have to admit that I had the most issues initially figuring out the differences with this when I initially had it on demo. The differences weren't apparent to me till I did one of two things. First, I used my IE8s with them. Secondly, I spent at least a week solely listening to the MS-AK100 before using anything else.

 

So with the first experiment, the main thing I noticed immediately was how tight, and how much it reigned in the bass of the IE8 in respect quality and tightness. With the second experiment, this may be a result of brain burn in, but what is good about it is that with that, I feel I'm able to pick out more about what I'm using especially if I'm having trouble adjusting initially. The difference I noticed was the immediate drop in the lusher and warmer sound signature. Compared to the AK100 (gold) for example, the staging is brought in a little in the sense that there is more intimacy. whilst the bass I felt was tighter, which may not necessarily be a good thing depending on what you use with it, I felt that details were ever so slightly veiled or put back due to the warmer sound presentation. In respect of vocals, I felt the MS-AK100 was able to present it in a more realistic fashion where I'd be able to hear the strain and the air in the voice. For example, I'd be able to hear a raspy voice or vocal strain in the voice when the singer hits higher notes. Along with the lush, comes weight and that can be a good thing when it comes to the piano, and that's another plus point from the mod for me. 

 

So on that note, what I like is the lushness of the presentation but I would still like to maintain the details and bass, not to leave it loose, but to have it there without it either colouring the sound or being emphasised to such an extent that I'd go mad. That said however, I do feel at times that the bass is perfect (please bear in mind this is with the 1Plus2) with some tracks and that I wouldn't have it any other way so this is a tough call for me. The Mezzo mod hasn't taken away the bass but tightened it up. I'm just wondering out loud if I want a little more bass out of it for myself with my 1Plus2s for example. 

 

Again, all this is about matching, sound wise. It is about mixing and matching to some extent to suit what you have, or to suit your tastes. What I will admit is that I do miss not having them with me now so much so that I'm looking to get one for myself, but we will see what happens in time to come. 

 

AK120

 

The first crazy thing to note is that this is double the price, almost, of the stock AK100. Is there a big jump in sound quality? That's up to you to define and figure out, but I'd like to think there is a difference. Does the price difference match the sonic differences, I don't think so. However, what I will say is that they have solved the impedence issue that was present from the stock AK100 which can only be a good thing moving forward. On top of that, they have two dacs in the AK120 instead of one, which may have led to the AK120 being double the price, who knows?

 

Jokes aside, as an overall package, if you already have the AK100 modded, or if the stock AK100 works for you as is, then I'm not sure the AK120 is exactly necessary. To be fair, any crazily priced item is usually never justified, not unless you peak into an enthusiast's mind, then perhaps, they'd justify it in the least objective fashion possible. Seriously though, I think the one thing that really stood out for me with the AK120 is the overall 3D presentation from it. It was the best I've heard yet, and that's where I feel it improves quite a fair bit on the other AK models. This is the one thing I'd really like in my DAP and if the MS-AK100 for example, was able to achieve this, I'd be hard pressed to not get the MS-AK100. I've used some analogies before, but if I had to think of another one for this, the AK120 seems to be able to create a ring around you that is almost perfect without a glitch in the loop whilst the MS-AK100 for example, is a little more angular instead of circular. 

 

All that being said, I'm not sure I'm in a position to say that I could afford the AK120. And it has less "body" than the MS-AK100 for example as well. On the other hand, I did feel that the AK120 for whatever reason, pulled out a little more bass from my IEMs. But I wasn't exactly sure I liked what it did with it. 

 

Conclusion

 

I think from all this, it is important to look at your individual preferences, along with what IEMs you use the DAP with, and then to tailor it according to what you want. It is always a little give and take here and there. I'd take the lush sound from the MS-AK100, the vocals of the MS-AK100, detailing of the AK120 along with the soundstage presentation of the AK120 (I really really liked that); to top that off, I'm undecided on the bass part. What I will end off with is to encourage you to listen to equipment, to figure out what you like or dislike about something and then to simply focus on whether you enjoy your music. If your head and heart tells you that using this particular DAP, whatever it is, works and keeps you happy, then use that. If you can't justify paying out x dollars for something, then don't. If you can, go for it. Music ultimately is meant to be enjoyed, that's why musicians perform after all. Differences in any item you use may be subtle or may be huge, it just depends on how much you value it.

 

Cheers.

 

Cravenz, cheers for your thorough in-depth impressions of the 4 models. I'll share my thoughts on the MS-AK100 & RWAK100 after this but before doing so I have a question about your impressions between the AK100 black and AK100 Gold. Is there really a difference in sound between the AK100 black and AK100 gold? I know it's been mentioned before of the battery life differences but didn't know about the sonic differences. Makes me wonder if the AK100 gold still has the 22 ohm OI.

 

I've had the MS-AK100 and RWAK100 in my hands together for some time now but I've actually spent little time A/B-ing both. Spending some time comparing between the two now, I find the two to be extremely similar. In fact it's a difficult call to make whether one is "better" than the other. As far as I know both are modded pretty much in almost the same way except (at least from pictures I've seen), the bypass wires are different in brand and in gauge.

 

If i were to nitpick between the two, I'd say the RWAK100 has a more holographic effect and a slightly warmer signature whilst the MS-AK100 is more of a drier and more airy focused. I'd probably categorise the MS-AK100 to be more analytical whilst the RWAK100 to be more on the musical side. Detail is easier to discern and more obvious on the MS-AK100 whilst the RWAK100 is more "natural" and and requires just a tad more focus.

 

I feel the RWAK100 also leans a little more on the fluid side, almost more analogue sounding, whist the MS-AK100 to be maybe a little more clinical.

 

Bottom line is that after listening to both, if I had to give up one and keep the other I probably wouldn't miss the other. Both are great performers and are really so similar to each other. The tendency of one vs the other is really at the level of nitpicking.

post #5862 of 8638
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnakChan View Post

 

Cravenz, cheers for your thorough in-depth impressions of the 4 models. I'll share my thoughts on the MS-AK100 & RWAK100 after this but before doing so I have a question about your impressions between the AK100 black and AK100 Gold. Is there really a difference in sound between the AK100 black and AK100 gold? I know it's been mentioned before of the battery life differences but didn't know about the sonic differences. Makes me wonder if the AK100 gold still has the 22 ohm OI.

 

I've had the MS-AK100 and RWAK100 in my hands together for some time now but I've actually spent little time A/B-ing both. Spending some time comparing between the two now, I find the two to be extremely similar. In fact it's a difficult call to make whether one is "better" than the other. As far as I know both are modded pretty much in almost the same way except (at least from pictures I've seen), the bypass wires are different in brand and in gauge.

 

If i were to nitpick between the two, I'd say the RWAK100 has a more holographic effect and a slightly warmer signature whilst the MS-AK100 is more of a drier and more airy focused. I'd probably categorise the MS-AK100 to be more analytical whilst the RWAK100 to be more on the musical side. Detail is easier to discern and more obvious on the MS-AK100 whilst the RWAK100 is more "natural" and and requires just a tad more focus.

 

I feel the RWAK100 also leans a little more on the fluid side, almost more analogue sounding, whist the MS-AK100 to be maybe a little more clinical.

 

Bottom line is that after listening to both, if I had to give up one and keep the other I probably wouldn't miss the other. Both are great performers and are really so similar to each other. The tendency of one vs the other is really at the level of nitpicking.

 

I do believe they haven't changed the 22 ohm output impedence in the gold. As far as I'm aware, it is only the battery switch. That said, I do not recall the black AK100 having "loose" bass like the gold. However, if I were a betting man, I wouldn't bet against them being similar or totally different (okay, I lie, I'd bet against them being totally different!) because I wasn't placing that much emphasis between the two and concentrated more on the differences between the MS-AK100 against the rest. That and the AK100 didn't work too great for me. And because I'm now running on memory, I'm hesitant to make a definitive call. I may have a chance in the future to demo them again and perhaps it would be better if I answered this question then, assuming I remember!

 

On that note, there was a silver edition as well I believe? I haven't seen much talk about it (I haven't been looking either to be fair), or was the whole idea scrapped?

 

Thanks for the MS and RW mod comparison. I somehow think I'm going to struggle with teasing out the little differences, or lack thereof, between the two models! Interesting comments on your comparison and hopefully I'll get to hear the RW mod in the not too distant future.

post #5863 of 8638
Quote:
Originally Posted by cravenz View Post

 

On that note, there was a silver edition as well I believe? I haven't seen much talk about it (I haven't been looking either to be fair), or was the whole idea scrapped?

 

 

Yes, there is the silver edition and together with the gold, they form the limited edition series of the AK100. I thought iRiver claimed both models(gold and silver) are the same internally as the standard version AK100? It would be interesting to open up the limited edition and the standard AK100 to compare.

post #5864 of 8638

A blind listening test is called for then with a helpful volunteer. Sometimes on head-fi things get over-analysed and people strive so hard to articulate into words these minute differences - if any - the differences get amplified beyond what they actually are. Not saying it has happened in this thread, have only ever heard stock AK100 so cannot comment, but it certainly happened on the Heir 4.ai thread :)

post #5865 of 8638
Quote:
Originally Posted by LFC_SL View Post

A blind listening test is called for then with a helpful volunteer. Sometimes on head-fi things get over-analysed and people strive so hard to articulate into words these minute differences - if any - the differences get amplified beyond what they actually are. Not saying it has happened in this thread, have only ever heard stock AK100 so cannot comment, but it certainly happened on the Heir 4.ai thread :)


Treading on dangerous territory there :P.

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