Regarding your point:
AK120+AMP+SE535s=even clearer sound
I was asked about how the AK120 fares vs the AK100/Vorzugge Pure in a private message (I have both)
For the direct comparison I found this:
I finally got around to comparing the AK100/Pure vs the AK120. In a nutshell; the 120 sounds better overall; the main differences I hear are initially that it's brighter, which it is, but there is a lot more detail and ambiance too. Switching back to the AK100/Pure, the same initial impression suggests a richer, fuller bass; but to these ears it's not the whole story, it's more of a closed in and darker balance. Less ambiance and detail. So, overall v pleased with the 120.
I then tried the '120 into the Pure amp:
I tried the Pure. I suppose it shouldn't come as a surprise that the effect is very similar i.e. the AK120 alone is brighter, with more air and detail - whereas via the Pure, it's a lot richer but it feels a bit more closed in. The initial impression I had was that the Pure is more musical, it being warmer sounding, but that's at the cost of detail. Swapping between the two (I was listening to Foals) there isn't a lack of bass on the '120 - it's just the balance leads to that impression. With further listening I'd say it's bass is a few % down on the Pure.
For the first time (on either AK) I tried the EQ function - that helped to redress the bass balance somewhat. It has a more detailed filter beyond the 5 slider bars, but I didn't try that. Whether the best solution is to boost the bass or tame the mid top - I'll need to experiment - provided I conclude the balance is wrong (when not comparing the two setups)
In conclusion, I'd say the '120 is a better long term bet for me - I like the detail and the bass and balance is only an issue when comparing the two (it's obviously smaller too). While the Pure adds an appealing degree of richness and warmth, it's at the expense of ambiance and detail.
So, my conclusion is that an amp doesn't guarantee an improvement. It most certainly sounds different, but whether it's an improvement, each to their own. It most certainly wasn't clearer to my ears. I did find the AK100 benefited overall with the Pure - it added a level of dynamics and punch (to an already great performance IMO) but I think the '120 directly addresses those shortcomings and the Pure takes more away than it gives.
I'm listening via FitEar MH334s BTW
I hope this helps