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The Astell & Kern AK120 - Page 236

post #3526 of 6118
I dug out my portable Stax earphones today to try them with the AK120. I have to say, if you can get past the comfort issues with the Stax ear tips this combination is really something rather special!

post #3527 of 6118

These baby Stax's are strange. I don't see the point of it. Uncomfortable, still leaks sound. Ok it is more portable than full sized cans but still not good for on to go, doesn't isolate and leaks sound. I mean, I would get full sized ones instead of this. At the end they are all transportable.

post #3528 of 6118
Well, I can see your point but for someone like me who has lived a transient life these past 14 years they are a boon, though I agree, very uncomfortable but the sound makes up for that and I don't have to worry about lugging around a mains powered energizer.

It is something I think that is very like the FAD Piano Forte's I own, one either gets it or one does not. For those who don't there are plenty of options but I have to say the two most esoteric headphones I own also happen to be the two most musically engaging ( though the far more normal T5P is also as engaging!)
post #3529 of 6118

Tried the AK120 with baby STAX as well the entire range at the recent Mook Festival here in Singapore.

 

Overall the combo's are heavenly.

 

The full sized entry level combo i.e. the 207 headspeaker + 252 driver is great value for money.

 

However I find a significant improvement to my ears at the 507 headspeaker point with either the 323 or 006 driver.


Edited by sidrpm - 8/24/13 at 2:09pm
post #3530 of 6118

I have a Stax SR-001 for a long time but I found them not so comfortable. But then I discovered somewhere buried in that thread http://www.head-fi.org/t/277049/the-stax-srm-001-mod-thread/75 how to diy some custom ear plugs. Now the fit perfectly just on top of the ear canal -no headband  required. They are now very comfortable and and the bass is very much improved. The new SR-002 https://www.staxusa.com/STAX-SRS-002.html  are likely better -especially highs.

I listened to the AK120 with Audeze LCD-3 (and some Final Audio IEMs) and was very impressed by their sound quality. As I am doing most of my listening at home through speakers I am wondering about the use of the AK120 as a digital source via mini toslink (glass) to a DAC. Does it just output the data stream or is also processing like EQ and volume involved (I hope not as that would be much better within my DAC). How does it compare to a computer with USB out (+/_ SPDIF converter)? Would USB another (future) option for digital out?

In principal I like the idea of using SD(XC) cards as a digital source and becoming independent from a computer to listen to digital files.

Having the AK 120 for portable use and also as a stationary source for my DAC  would be very attractive to me.


Edited by greenmountain - 8/24/13 at 8:48pm
post #3531 of 6118
Just found that thank you!
post #3532 of 6118
Quote:
Originally Posted by lee730 View Post

Hey Stimul I actually sold my 8As a while back. I'm currently getting the Spiral Ears SE5s (should be shipping out by Monday the latest). Personally the 8A was not up to my expectations. It was way over-hyped and the experience I endured to get a completed IEM without defects was a joke. Basically they had it out for me and were purposely giving me ****. I would never give them my business again just based on that experience alone.... But regarding the sound. It's not what the hype will lead you to believe. At least not my pair that is.

The best I've heard the 8As honestly sound was out of my Hisound Nova N1 player. Otherwise there was generally way too much bass, cluttered mid-range, and the presentation was dull overall. I did however find the 8As to pair best on the 1.21 firmware as it leaned out the bass noticeably  (I think 1.21 lacked power) but this worked well with the 8As. Still not the best sounding IEM for me. I even feel the Flat 4 Sui and Kaede are superior to the 8As personally.

Hi lee736, and thank you for your feedback. I can see from the Heir thread, that you have had your share of troubles, and can only imagine the agony in the process of dealing with a producer on the other side of the world when in trouble. Very contradictory to my own experience which turned out very well from A-Z thanks to Dr. Moulton.

The 8.A was my first set of CIEMS not sounding "shallow" and "hollow" like traditional onstage monitors for musicians. I believe that the 8.A is first and foremost built to play music, and I find them to be very musically engaging. But they are as you say bass heavy.

As you probably understand, I absolutely love them and they are accompanying me all over wherever and whenever. The sound signature is also somewhat similar to my desktop setup, so that might also explain my enthusiasm. Isn't it great that we can have so different experiences with the same product? Absolute beautiful.

Anyway, the reason I asked about your opinion of fit in the AK120 and 8.A case, is that occasionally I find the bass to be blurred / bloated (on some specific tracks) and not as tight, dry and punchy (albeit slow) I know they are capable of.*

Initially I believed it to be the monitors themselves, then bad recordings and/or mastering but after testing it on my desktop setup (Violectric DAC V800 and V200) with 8.A , UE Pro 18 as well as LCD-2.2, I abandoned that hypothesis. Same songs with same equipment sounded significantly tighter when using the desktop setup vs. AK120.

So after going back and forth, testing these tracks over and over again, AK120 vs. desktop setup, I tend to believe that the AK120 is either somewhat "loose" in the bass section and/or that the fit between AK120 and 8.A is good but not exceptional with all tracks, again according to my ears.**

Listening to pop, rock, metal, alternative metal, new age, jazz as well as some classical music, I in general find my new portable combo absolutely beautiful. However, occasionally some R&B / hip-Hop / rap tend to disrupt my pleasure, e.g. "Coming home" with P. Diddy, and I'm really looking forward to trying out the 901 with the 8.A.

P.s. The cost of the AK120 is equivalent to US $1.750,- in Norway.


* I use the Silver Poison (Toxix) cable. It opens up the mids and highs as well as tightens the bass to the extent that one can hear an audible difference (significant) vs. the accompanying Magnus upgrade cable.
** No EQ added anywhere. Desktop setup with JRiver 19 (WASAPI) with optical out from MOBO to DAC anf balanced cables from DAC to V200.
post #3533 of 6118

I'm glad that your experience with Heir was a good one and you didn't have to go through what I did. I wouldn't wish that experience on my worst enemy ;).

 

Anyways I also did not like the pairing of the AK120 and Heir 8A the best out of all my gear. Personally the Nova N1 brought the most balance to the 8As sound but even that device isn't without its issues.... So in that I was not pleased at all. I did try the silver cable on a short listen on the 8As. It did help out the bass a little but I didn't like what it did to the treble as well as taking the mids further back. So I used the old gold cable I had from tralucent audio. That seemed to work the best on the 8As. But I generally still found them way too bassy for my tastes. I'd have to listen to them at very low volumes and at that point they sounded too dull.

 

But as I said earlier on the 1.21 firmware I felt the 8A worked best on the AK120 and it had the most control of its bass that way. So try give the 1.21 firmware a go and see if that is to your liking. Otherwise on the other firmwares my 8A was way way too bassy on the AK120....


Edited by lee730 - 8/25/13 at 2:25am
post #3534 of 6118

Has anyone had problems with the AK120 database?  I've got quite a few albums that don't show up anywhere other than folder view - not visible in Artists, Albums or Songs.  I've scanned the library numerous times (with autoscan off and on), reapplied the 1.32 firmware, and removed the ak120syncDB.db3 file so that a new one is created but the data is still missing.  The missing data is split between onboard memory and an external card.

 

The artist isn't classed as unknown either - tags are correct according to mp3tag.

post #3535 of 6118
Quote:
Originally Posted by hellnick View Post

Has anyone had problems with the AK120 database?  I've got quite a few albums that don't show up anywhere other than folder view - not visible in Artists, Albums or Songs.  I've scanned the library numerous times (with autoscan off and on), reapplied the 1.32 firmware, and removed the ak120syncDB.db3 file so that a new one is created but the data is still missing.  The missing data is split between onboard memory and an external card.

 

The artist isn't classed as unknown either - tags are correct according to mp3tag.

Only with DSD files.  I converted my SACD collection (over 150 SACDs) from dff to dsd so I can edit the metadata.   HQPlayer and Media Center now properly display the artist names but my AK120 doesn't.  I have to use the folder view to access my DSD music.


Edited by caseyse - 8/25/13 at 1:03pm
post #3536 of 6118
Quote:
Originally Posted by caseyse View Post

Only with DSD files.  I converted my SACD collection (over 150 SACDs) from dff to dsd so I can edit the metadata.   HQPlayer and Media Center now properly display the artist names but my AK120 doesn't.  I have to use the folder view to access my DSD music.

 

That's a known issue casey. I access my DSD via the folder view as well. I acutally access all my music this was as it's the most convenient for me since playlist support still hasn't been fixed....

post #3537 of 6118
Using the amp on my Stax showed me that the headphone out appears to be a very clean line out as well.
post #3538 of 6118
Quote:
Originally Posted by ianmedium View Post

Using the amp on my Stax showed me that the headphone out appears to be a very clean line out as well.

 

I agree the AK120 has a very clean HO which is suitable for amping.

post #3539 of 6118
Quote:
Originally Posted by lee730 View Post

I agree the AK120 has a very clean HO which is suitable for amping.

Lee, it just makes me itch more for my TU-05 to come back from alteration in Japan. Hopefully by the end of this week it should be done so probably two weeks. I can't wait to here this player out of that amp!
post #3540 of 6118
Quote:
Originally Posted by ianmedium View Post


Lee, it just makes me itch more for my TU-05 to come back from alteration in Japan. Hopefully by the end of this week it should be done so probably two weeks. I can't wait to here this player out of that amp!

 

Is that an 801 in your picture? Have you compared them in terms of sound quality? How about when amping is the 120 better? 

 

I look forward to your impressions. Most of the time I am using the AK120 amped. Although its not due to it being a requirement. Just I'm spoiled and I love the sound. Still reasonable portable with the T1 amp. I have to admit though I don't take it out with me very much. Usually use it at home and take the 3rd ANV with me when out and about.

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