I took the liberty to make a separate impression thread for the AK120 as the introductory thread was becoming too complicated to follow. There was too much going on and not enough about how the product is actually performing.
Part 1-Early impression
Construction: Compared to the AK100 there have been few key improvement which consist of a much more stable and stiffer volume knob with built in volume protector which the AK100 lacks. This makes taking out the unit a much easier task. The unit feels considerably more solid with the provided leather case. AK120 feels heavier than its older sibling due to the larger battery used.
Accessories: AK120 comes with a well constructed brown leather case which I find to be an essential accessory for me. I don't know about you guys but I always had to be extra careful when I was handling the AK100 due to my sweaty hands! The larger dimension of the AK120 with the provides leather case makes handling it a less cumbersome task.
The unit is shipped with the same micro-USB cable as the AK100 and it is pre-loaded with some HD tracks and unlike the AK100 there is no micro-SD with pre-loaded songs.
Power and sound: Before mentioning anything out of all my IEM the only one that I felt I could benefit with adding an amp in the chain was again the ER4S but take what I have said with a grain of salt since as I am typing this I am recovering from a nasty flu and my ears are not quiet what they normally are.I got the etymotics back today and I was no able to listen to them when I did not have the flu.
For now I have tested the AK120 mostly with EX-1000, CK100PRO and ER4S. I hope by end of next month I will have an extensive listening session with all the IEM I can get my hands on.
In short CK100PRO and EX-1000 sounded their potential best.
EX-1000: I found the pairing with EX-1000 the most enjoyable. The treble spike of EX-1000 seem to have been tamed mildly when paired with AK120. The sound is nice and open, full bodied and revealing. In terms of amping I was lurking between 50-60/75.
CK100PRO: Paired with CK100PRO it just too transparent and full of energy across all frequancy the pairing is capable of handling. Perhaps too transparent and it become too much energetic at time. I did not have such an experience when I paired this with AK100.
In general I do not find CK100PR0 and IEM that requires a dedicated amp to sound their best however I did find that CK100PRO source and material used matter in general. However CK100PRO paired with AK120 it became apparant having nicely recorded album is essential. Volume wise I could not find self going passed with the 30-44/75 with one few occasion where I had to be at 58/75. This is
From early listening experiments I enjoy the synergy EX-1000 and AK120 have with each other. If I was told that I was to live with this setup for the rest of my life I would not have any problem as this setup seem to do just find for all genera of music I listen too (Jazz, rock, alternative rock, pop, trance, classic, neo-classic)
UI: First thing first AK120 is gapless ready! All you have to do is ensure that the gapless playback is enabled using the setting->Equalizer->gapless. The UI is much more improved from what the AK100 has. As I type this a russian modder was able to root the AK120 UI on the AK100 which enables the gapless feature on the AK100. Please note this is not an official release and it is not guaranteed that by doing this you are not damaging your unit.
The UI improvement is more than noticeable and while still not as good as the UI apple implements on is iDevices I believe with few more tweaks it will satisfy the need of a large portion of us, I for one would love to see the grid album display and track number display next to the song in album viewing format.
Part 2: Headphone and IEM list that sound great right out of AK120 (without any need of amping):
I thought to make a list of all the gear that sound great right out of AK120:
I have around 110 hours of operation time on the AK120 and I've noticed that the bass has tighten and over all the unit sound more neutral. It is not as war as I first heard it. I enjoyed the warmer tonality more. I need to get it with my other gears to know for sure.
Part 2-My future detailed review: AK120 vs DD socket 1+ portaphile 627X+ipod touch nano 7G
For the last few days I was thinking how can I make a fair comparison review thread, there was simply to many factors involved. As it stands right now AK series are the smallest unit in the market of high end DAP and in terms of portability nothing can compete with them which has the same playback support. On the other hand in our world portability is still has only a second degree importance and what it ultimately comes down to is how good it sounds. So as a result I decided to review this with a setup that cost the same as the AK120($1299 AUD).
For my review I decided to use the following setup:
DD socket 1,-Muses 01 edn($498)+ portaphile 627X($599)+ipod touch nano 7G($145)=$1242(AUD)
While size-wise surely AK120 wins without any doubt however I thought the only fair way to approach this is to see what other combination I can achieve with the same budget. I am hoping to get the portaphile 627x within 4-5 weeks and I know AK120 will struggle against this as AK120 simply does not have the power to handle everything so for my review I will only stick with IEM and nothing more. I think that is a fair way to approach this as there is really no point on having a tiny unit as AK120 for on the go high fidelity portability to have it paired with a giant beast like HD800. So for those who think AK120 lower power is a design flaw I think it is not for that very reason I explained earlier.
Edited by audionewbi - 8/3/13 at 11:49pm