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The Astell & Kern AK240 - Page 115

post #1711 of 5073

:D ... I convinced Vinnie to also look at the Calyx M to see what improvements he could bring to it (like he successfully do the the AK100/120 : "real" line out, new DAC chip, .... ).

 

Here is what he wrote me:

 

" I'd love to get my hands on both the Calyx M and the AK240 stock units, compare them.  Then see what kind of modding potential they have and which player would sound better after mods.  

 

The question I have to you (and everyone else in the Calyx M and AK240 threads) is what mods would people be interested in?  It seems like some want these players to be optimized to be used with an external amp. And some want them to be optimized to be the best all-in-one player? 

 

I'm not sure what kind of space is inside these players, but if the amp output stage can be improved to the level of the best portable amps, then I think it makes sense to focus on that.  BUT - I'm not sure how good their dac implementations are.  The WM8741 is a better sounding chip to both the Cirrus Logic and Saber chips used by the AK240 and Calyx M - but it uses more power.  

 

I was thinking about how much better these players can be if the battery was removed and an external battery was used.  Then there would be space inside for crazy good mods!  

 

I wish I can follow these threads more carefully, but I am so busy.  But please let people know they can message me with questions and I will try to respond, and give my honest opinions.  And once I try these stock players, I will give my honest impressions on how they all sound in relation to each other.  "

post #1712 of 5073
Nice! The only disappointment I have with the current DAPs are no true line out. The AK can be very versatile thanks to it's 2.5 and 3.5 outputs. Expand the 2.5 balanced to 3.5 balanced and change the 3.5 to the true line out. People that want an all in one solution for CIEMs win, and people that want to add an amp win.

The Wolfson vs current DAC all depends on how battery life is effected.
post #1713 of 5073
Quote:
Originally Posted by JackDiesel View Post

Nice! The only disappointment I have with the current DAPs are no true line out. The AK can be very versatile thanks to it's 2.5 and 3.5 outputs. Expand the 2.5 balanced to 3.5 balanced and change the 3.5 to the true line out. People that want an all in one solution for CIEMs win, and people that want to add an amp win.

The Wolfson vs current DAC all depends on how battery life is effected.

Or change the 2.5 balanced for a ... Mini-XLR  :D   Much more sexy and more ruggedized 

 

post #1714 of 5073
Quote:
Originally Posted by bmichels View Post

Or change the 2.5 balanced for a ... Mini-XLR  biggrin.gif    Much more sexy and more ruggedized 



Really? That thing is huge. I can't imagine there being much room for him to work with.

The plus about a 3.5 TRRS is that you can plug in a stereo 3.5 and it'll still work. At least if what I've read online is correct. But I could be wrong.
post #1715 of 5073

It's just a tad bit irksome that fiio can make a 350$ dap with both line out and coaxial out while AK & Calyx are making 1K+ daps and cant...

post #1716 of 5073
Quote:
Originally Posted by JackDiesel View Post

Nice! The only disappointment I have with the current DAPs are no true line out. The AK can be very versatile thanks to it's 2.5 and 3.5 outputs. Expand the 2.5 balanced to 3.5 balanced and change the 3.5 to the true line out. People that want an all in one solution for CIEMs win, and people that want to add an amp win.

The Wolfson vs current DAC all depends on how battery life is effected.

 

As some of you modded AK owners know, the dual WM8741 eats up battery faster, but configured in HW mode with the minimal phase digital filtering, it is really as good as it gets for a portable source.  I've plugged it into a few very good home audio systems where it knocked socks off of listeners and easily competed with > $2k home audio dacs.  I was really hoping the AK240 would have used the WM8741s and allowed the selection of the internal digital filters in the UI.  And WM8741 does native DSD.  That would have been a slam dunk IMHO!   

 

These players (AK240, Calyx M) use different d/a chips with different foot prints and software volume control methods, so they cannot be

easily replaced.  Heck, it's tricky enough lifting pins and hard wiring the WM8741 to work where the WM8740 was in the AK players.  So realistically, we need to stick with the d/a converters used by these players and I'm sure they are still very good.  We'll see how everything looks after the d/a chips (as this usually has equal or even more of an influence on the overall sound).  

 

I have no doubts that these players in their stock forum are going to sound excellent and a lot of hard work has been put into them.  They are breaking new ground in the DAP arena and leading the way.  If they are in the same league as the best portable source + portable headphone amps out there, then that is an amazing accomplishment.  If not, we'll see what can be done (if anything) to get to at least that level.  No promises at this point.... just wishes and dreams for now.  

 

BTW - what has become the "most accepted" (whatever that means) plug for balanced headphone output and balanced line out?  The Kobiconn (like RSA and ALO), the 3.5mm TRRS, or will it be the 2.5mm TRRS?  I can see cable companies cursing at the 2.5mm TRRS standard because it's really tiny to solder good wire onto...

post #1717 of 5073
Quote:
Originally Posted by JackDiesel View Post


Really? That thing is huge. I can't imagine there being much room for him to work with.

The plus about a 3.5 TRRS is that you can plug in a stereo 3.5 and it'll still work. At least if what I've read online is correct. But I could be wrong.

 

If the output is a true balanced (4 separate conductors for L+, L-, R+, and R-), then you DO NOT want to use a stereo (3-conductor) 3.5mm TRS into it, as you will short the output stage.  I think this is THE reason why the AK240 uses the 2.5mm TRRS for the balanced output - to avoid

mix-ups.  But I would have thought they would have used the Kobiconn (like RSA, ALO, and others) for the balanced output.  Or maybe that 4-conductor mini XLR.  I guess space is at a premium, as with the AK100 and AK120 players! :eek:

post #1718 of 5073
Quote:
Originally Posted by zachchen1996 View Post
 

It's just a tad bit irksome that fiio can make a 350$ dap with both line out and coaxial out while AK & Calyx are making 1K+ daps and cant...

 

From what I've read, they believe setting the digital volume control to MAX and using the headphone output jack (with the headphone output stage) is equal to a line-out.  

If it completely bypasses the digital volume section of the d/a chip, then it would be pretty close.  But the headphone output stage is another stage (one designed to output

more current to drive headphones, at the cost of adding more parts in the signal path to do so) and not a true line out from the dac output stage IMO.  

post #1719 of 5073
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinnie R. View Post
 

 

 

BTW - what has become the "most accepted" (whatever that means) plug for balanced headphone output and balanced line out?  The Kobiconn (like RSA and ALO), the 3.5mm TRRS, or will it be the 2.5mm TRRS?  I can see cable companies cursing at the 2.5mm TRRS standard because it's really tiny to solder good wire onto...

 

May be not the "most accepted"  :D   but IMO, the Mini-XLR is the most sexy and most ruggedized.

 

Plus... ALO Audio uses it in its Green Line swapping cables.  So we could have our headphone cable terminated by a mini-XLR to insert it directly into the DAP or... to connect to other plug adaptors.

 

 

 

post #1720 of 5073
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinnie R. View Post
 

 I can see cable companies cursing at the 2.5mm TRRS standard because it's really tiny to solder good wire onto...

 

And the structural inadequacy of a tiny 2.5mm plug will likely result in it being made of magnetic steel. An all brass plug would be very susceptible to the dreaded: "Damn...the plug snapped right off" syndrome.  :(

post #1721 of 5073
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinnie R. View Post

BTW - what has become the "most accepted" (whatever that means) plug for balanced headphone output and balanced line out?  The Kobiconn (like RSA and ALO), the 3.5mm TRRS, or will it be the 2.5mm TRRS?  I can see cable companies cursing at the 2.5mm TRRS standard because it's really tiny to solder good wire onto...

 

I think the easiest to use is the Kobiconn and the 3.5 TRRS. They both hold up well and I have used the Kobiconn for a long time. The TRRS, obviously takes up the lease room and I like working with it. The Hirose is the highest quality, IMO, and an extremely good connector but it cost much more, is harder to solder and takes more room than a TRRS, a little anyway. I think the 2.5 TRRS is a horrible idea. The center pin almost has to be steel in order for there to be any strength and how many better 2.5 TRRS are there and then the question of soldering and getting a good solid connection that can take some abuse, which all the other connectors can. Also the crosstalk would have to be higher on the 2.5. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vinnie R. View Post

 

BTW - what has become the "most accepted" (whatever that means) plug for balanced headphone output and balanced line out?  The Kobiconn (like RSA and ALO), the 3.5mm TRRS, or will it be the 2.5mm TRRS?  I can see cable companies cursing at the 2.5mm TRRS standard because it's really tiny to solder good wire onto...

I would agree and from everything I have read, increasing to max the volume is an effective line out but as you point out, when going through the amp section, you now have those addition parts, which can obscure some of the detail you are after, be that more transparency etc. 


Edited by jamato8 - 2/7/14 at 10:49am
post #1722 of 5073

Angles play a factor, you're dictated to by placement issues both inside and outside of the device. I'd rather a Mini XLR or similar 4pin connector with a small footprint than a feeble 2.5 TRRS.... the best mod I think Vinnie could do for the AK240 though is to make it cheaper, if he can pull that off it'd be the best mod ever .lol.

 

The Hugo Chord sounds like its in need of a modification, would be ace to see a AK240 - Chord paring with a balanced input/output.

post #1723 of 5073

After seeing the the early impressions by VZ and Jude, I can't wait to order mine. Come on ALO, put this beauty up already!:happy_face1:

post #1724 of 5073

.... honestly think its the same footprint as the MKII B+ amp. If it is, they've known about this design and planned for it.

post #1725 of 5073
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldlion973 View Post

Expectations will be extremely high for such a price tag... waiting on a few accounts here...

1. If it tops the HM-901 as a benchmark soundwise




Some of us who have tried both feel the AK120 is better sounding and more of a benchmark, I know I did, thats why I got it over the 901.
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