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The Astell & Kern AK120 - Page 229

post #3421 of 6282
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinnie R. View Post

Hi FMTTM,

The AK100/120 is also converting DSD to PCM (the WM8740 does not handle native DSD, but the WM8741 does).  

Vinnie

This is news to me (thought the 120 does dsd native). Is there any more info on this?

Thanks

C
post #3422 of 6282
Quote:
Originally Posted by x838nwy View Post


This is news to me (thought the 120 does dsd native). Is there any more info on this?

Thanks

C

 

How could it do native DSD with WM8740s? confused_face(1).gif

 

No other info is needed - WM8740 unfortunately does not do native DSD, so they need to convert to PCM.  But at least you can still play your DSD files and they still sound good.

post #3423 of 6282
Quote:
Originally Posted by lee730 View Post


I compared DSD files converted to PCM 88 and the PCM was louder and had less dynamic range than the SACD rip. This was from Wham! SACD. Sounds noticeably better in original DSD. Both still sound good though.

So all you're saying is that what the AK120 does in real time is preferred to your method. You're comparing PCM to PCM.

post #3424 of 6282
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinnie R. View Post

How could it do native DSD with WM8740s? confused_face(1).gif

No other info is needed - WM8740 unfortunately does not do native DSD, so they need to convert to PCM.  But at least you can still play your DSD files and they still sound good.

M'kay. Was just interested in what it bit/sample rate pcm it converts to etc. Nvm.
post #3425 of 6282
I just dug out my old FAD Heaven S's and they are an excellent match with the AK120!

The ER4S's are absolutely magical with this player though one has to crank the volume up to around 75 to get the same levels as my other headphones!
Edited by ianmedium - 8/21/13 at 8:05pm
post #3426 of 6282
Another thing I love about this player is that one can use the hard keys and volume pot and not have to have the display come on. I love listening in the dark and not having to have the screen lit if I want to change volume or tracks is really useful!
post #3427 of 6282
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinnie R. View Post

Someone like LISTRID would be the man for the firmware part of it since he already has it and knows his way around it.  I'll take care
of the hardware wink.gif

Seriously - I know he's been busy, but if he was interested in making the firmware to allow the WM8741s to run in software mode with the MPF, then
I'll be glad to give him an RWAK120-S beerchug.gif
Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it more than just a DSD capable that's required?

I thought hardware clock circuitry is also required to wire into the DAC for DSD. Does the AK120 have that already? I don't think firmware can do that?
post #3428 of 6282
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnakChan View Post


Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't it more than just a DSD capable that's required?

I thought hardware clock circuitry is also required to wire into the DAC for DSD. Does the AK120 have that already? I don't think firmware can do that?

 



Yes the hardware clock must be compatible. What I think the AK120 is doing is doing an "on the fly" conversion of the DSD files to PCM. The additional overhead of this conversion, puts a lot of burden on the FPGA, thus it consumes more power, feels sluggish during conversion and also gets hot while playing DSD. But I'm really impressed they managed to do it in firmware as the coding must have been a bitch!

 

Additional, I'm sure of this conversion is because WM8740 cannot do native DSD. The WM8741 can do native DSD.

post #3429 of 6282
Quote:
Originally Posted by sinsiang View Post




Yes the hardware clock must be compatible. What I think the AK120 is doing is doing an "on the fly" conversion of the DSD files to PCM. The additional overhead of this conversion, puts a lot of burden on the FPGA, thus it consumes more power, feels sluggish during conversion and also gets hot while playing DSD. But I'm really impressed they managed to do it in firmware as the coding must have been a bitch!

Additional, I'm sure of this conversion is because WM8740 cannot do native DSD. The WM8741 can do native DSD.
I should be clearer. Yes I'm aware of the stock AK120 & it's DSD conversion to PCM or whatever higher res PCM compatible format.

I was referring to the RWAK120S specifically that is plonking in a DSD capable & firmware to understand DSD sufficient? I always thought DSD DACs need to have DSD-dedicated clock circuitry feeding into it which is implemented h/w-wise, not software/firmware. Does the AK120 have that? If not does the RWAK120S include that circuitry in addition to swapping DACs?
post #3430 of 6282
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodvibes View Post

So all you're saying is that what the AK120 does in real time is preferred to your method. You're comparing PCM to PCM.

 

This wasn't on the AK120 but directly on the PC. The same files converted over to PCM and then played back. I also took the dynamic range of both albums and in the original DSD from it had a higher dynamic range. Also sounded more well rounded with more depth.

post #3431 of 6282
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnakChan View Post


I should be clearer. Yes I'm aware of the stock AK120 & it's DSD conversion to PCM or whatever higher res PCM compatible format.

I was referring to the RWAK120S specifically that is plonking in a DSD capable & firmware to understand DSD sufficient? I always thought DSD DACs need to have DSD-dedicated clock circuitry feeding into it which is implemented h/w-wise, not software/firmware. Does the AK120 have that? If not does the RWAK120S include that circuitry in addition to swapping DACs?

 

If I'm wrong about my assumption for needing a dedicated clock for DSD for DSD DACs, my apologies. Please feel free to correct my knowledge here.
post #3432 of 6282
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnakChan View Post

 

If I'm wrong about my assumption for needing a dedicated clock for DSD for DSD DACs, my apologies. Please feel free to correct my knowledge here.


You do not need a dedicated clock for DSD. In a DSD capable chip like the WM8741, it still uses the same master clock. The implementation is software. The chip has 2 DSD modes, direct DSD and DSD plus. DSD plus just enhances the data and corrects for errors (it think)rolleyes.gif.

 

Anyways, just trying to explain, all is cool with me herebiggrin.gif.

post #3433 of 6282
Quote:
Originally Posted by goodvibes View Post

If you haven't heard it, you're being too critical. The output impedance is fine, the dual DACs are also VG and allow it to play longer with it's internal amp than the RWAK DACs would. The headphone out is a fine line out as well. It's very transparent as anyone that's tried it that way can attest. I do believe it can be improved by making it have a more specific use as RWAK has done but it also makes it less versitile and the opposite of what you're asking for.

 

I beileve it can be improved by adding a few more features. I doubt it would hurt the player much as the RWA mods have shown. It's just unfortunate because of factors beyond RWA's control that the S mod is line out only. But I think it's been shown that it can be improved upon soundwise and offer an expanded set of features with little problem.

 

I don't find that I'm being critical. I'll admit that I haven't heard the AK120, but I can't help but being wary about double amping into a multi-watt desktop amp. I have little doubt about what the AK120 can do. I just find it strange that both the HM901 and the AK120 are lacking in features that would broaden the use of these players and make more money as a result. Vinnie has shown that it's possible to include such features, whereas I thought it was impossible to include such features by design.

 

Seeing that these features were possible but such users like me were left out of the picture. So the AK120 falls short of being a truely be a end all solution unless you are a particular type of user. A lot of options would be opened up with a true line out, and while many might be extremely satisfied with the current headphone jack I think it's obvious that HiFi enthusiasts like to tinker and try different amps and different things to get what works best for them.

 

I think that's the market to cater to, and you can have the simple plug in and go there for the people who do not want to deal with it. I mean the fact is things aren't this way but like I said I just find it very strange to have certain features that seem obvious to me just totally missing. I will probably end up purchasing the AK120 at least to try, as the HM901 can't even be used out of a laptop which kind of blows my mind considering the HM801. If it falls short, I'll likely return it. I really appreciate the RWA S mod and all it does, but I have very little interest in toting a brick around as well, but who knows, maybe that's what I'll end up with.

 

So yes, I'm very particular but I feel that for over $1000 I have that right. I don't doubt what the AK120 CAN do, I'm just not very enthused about what it does for a person like me. As it seems users like me were totally left out in the design of this product.

post #3434 of 6282
i got a loan set (AK120) and compared closely with AK100 , the Fiio X3 and my iphone5 - Same couple of tracks copied and i repeated the tests again with default settings -
Here's a short summary of the findings.

AK120 Observations : Sound is clean - background extremely clean and quiet , no distortions, no hiss... I'ts just done rightly , not too airy , nor too dark. Bass were well controlled and tight. Mids were sharp & clear, treble were tight. Sound overall has good slight warm and with tight impact. Sound stage : medium size - mids were centric (sound stage very similar to iphone 5 - unmodded)

Ak 100 Observations : Changing from AK120 -to Ak100 - immediately noticed that the sounds (mid/treble) sounds brighter - there's an additional sparkle on the Ak100 comparing to Ak120. Sounds oveerall were looser comparing to Ak120. After closer inspection - i realised that the Ak100 sounded thinner with lesser control - especially on the mids. Some of the tracks - the mids sounds a bit harsh - which i didn't observed that on the AK120. Sound stage : appears larger than Ak120 which is medium size - mids were not so centric

Fiio X3 : Observations : Immediately - you can get a feel of the 3D and wider soundstage. All sounds (bass/mid/treble) felt lighter. The background sound of X3 is airy and a little open sounding. Bass has similar depth , comparing to Ak120. Mids of x3 is slightly distant and softer due to the airy nature and wider soundstage. Overall x3 sounds lesser impact comparing to the Ak100,and ak120.

Iphone 5: Oberservants : extremely clean output similar to ak120 . no distortions, no hiss . clean quier background. Music has good bass impactful , tight mids - mids appear quite forward and impactful but not to the extend it became harsh. still within controlled. treble : very similar to Ak100. Brighter than ak120.


Summary : which would i prefer ?

Ak120 - would suits folks who like clean controlled sound - almost none distortions - extremely balanced - does nothing out of the norm - it will not excite you , it will not bore you too.
Ak100 - brighter signature version of the ak120 (mids/treble) all sounded brigher - more consumer style sounding - musical & fun, however sounded thinner across all frequencies
Fiio x3 - wide soundstage , airy . deep bass , excellent treble , above average mids - sound were thinner as it sounded more distant due to wider soundstage.
Iphone 5 - Just one word - musical and clean - very mid centric sounding - average soundstage. very close resemblence to ak100 - but better controlled.


Which is better for bucks ?
i wouldn't want to start a spam war by commenting on this - but each has it's pros and cons. Really depends on your earphones that you are using , any AMP or external DAC that you are going to use - or just listening it straight from the DAP. All the 4 of them are strong performers - trust me. I also had the 1st generation Sanclips.. honestly for DAP players that forummers has been raving about , the differences are mostly signature sounding and slight differences if you nitpick - more importantly , you can consider the weight , battery life , connectivity , storage options, price etc...
Edited by radi9red - 8/22/13 at 2:18am
post #3435 of 6282

What IEMs or headphones are you using with them? For me it's more than just a difference in signature. My iphone4 does not even being to compare to the AK120. Nor does a Sansa Fuze. Although the RWA AK100 did not impress me much either and I found issues with its upper mids, lower treble and bloated bass.
 

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