This is news to me (thought the 120 does dsd native). Is there any more info on this?
How could it do native DSD with WM8740s?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Anyways, just trying to explain, all is cool with me here.
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.
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.