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What difference should I expect? AK120->RWAK120 + SE846

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

for my most portable setup I use an AK120 with SE846's. I think the combination sounds absolutely stunning, and in such a compact configuration.

 

I have seen a few people mention that the 3ohm output impedance of the AK120 means that it should be paired with earphones with about 27ohms impedance - some kind of 8X rule (hand waving? Snake oil?). In particular i have seen it said that the AK120 is no good for IEM's that have a lower impedance.

 

Now, my SE486 IEM's have an impedance of 9ohms, and so I have seen people claim that they won't sound good with the AK120. They do sound good to me, and really thats all that matters, however, as an audiophile (what a curse!) I am worried that I might be missing something (LOL).

 

So

 

Q1) What problems should I be able to hear when pairing 9ohm IEM's with 3ohms output impedance?

Q2) If I invest in the RWAK120 modification to drop the output impedance to 1ohm, what improvements ought i be able to hear?

 

 

Thanks for any input on this fascinating subject.

post #2 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by piercer View Post

Hi all,

for my most portable setup I use an AK120 with SE846's. I think the combination sounds absolutely stunning, and in such a compact configuration.

I have seen a few people mention that the 3ohm output impedance of the AK120 means that it should be paired with earphones with about 27ohms impedance - some kind of 8X rule (hand waving? Snake oil?). In particular i have seen it said that the AK120 is no good for IEM's that have a lower impedance.

Now, my SE486 IEM's have an impedance of 9ohms, and so I have seen people claim that they won't sound good with the AK120. They do sound good to me, and really thats all that matters, however, as an audiophile (what a curse!) I am worried that I might be missing something (LOL).

So

Q1) What problems should I be able to hear when pairing 9ohm IEM's with 3ohms output impedance?
Q2) If I invest in the RWAK120 modification to drop the output impedance to 1ohm, what improvements ought i be able to hear?

Thanks for any input on this fascinating subject.



I would email Vinnie at Red Wine Audio.
Edited by jlcichocki - 2/1/14 at 10:16pm
post #3 of 22

i have the 120 titan with the 846 and i think they sound absolutely fantastic

post #4 of 22

Right now, your lower treble is being reduced by about 3db. It's not really affecting the bass much as the impedance is higher there. Here's an impedance graph:

and frequency response:

You will lose some amplitude in the areas where the impedance dips down. It's not a huge swing but it does get quite low. The dip in the mids wont hurt you as it will just make them flatter before the bass starts to rise but the lower treble reduction may be undesirable. If you have EQ, try raising 2 db in the 500hz to 700hz range and 3 db in the in the 3 to 7 khz range and see what you think. There's more to damping than just frequency response but it may give you some idea of the response difference.

 

Looking at the response curve, I think the lower range will actually get a little worse but the upper range better. By reducing the lower treble as it does now it may actually sound more extended though it isn't. Psycho-acoustics effect that may or may not be present.

post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by jlbrach View Post

i have the 120 titan with the 846 and i think they sound absolutely fantastic

Is it the Red Wine Titan?

I am looking for a DAP to pair with JHA Roxanne IEM. I like what I'm reading about the mod.
post #6 of 22

no,it is simply the 120 titan i bought from a dealer through amazon and as i said the combination is magical to my ears

post #7 of 22

Goodvibes,

 

Your chart is very interesting. I have just bought an AK120 Titan and pair it with UE 11's which are specified with 18 ohms at 1K hz. How does this affect the sound signature of the Titan? I love the player - amazing resolution and musicality - but I find I have to crank the EQ way up in the treble to counteract a very "dark" reduced mid-to-upper treble response without EQ. Is this because of a bad impedance match up?

post #8 of 22

Goodvibes,

 

Also, do you know if using the EQ will affect resolution in any way? I imagine it does but it seems to not affect things to my ears after a few weeks of listening to the new Titan I just bought. I know EQ is heresy in our audiophile circles and this is the first I ever use "tone controls" on my audio listening. And I really don;t want to loose any resolution but w/o EQ, the treble is just way to reduced for my taste. Any thoughts on how the EQ affects the Titan resolution if at all?

post #9 of 22

Piercer,

 

I just got a Titan and love the sound. Gobs of detail that I wasn't getting with my earlier DAP (Cypher Labs Solo). DAC chips certainly have improved. Did you ever find a good thread on impressions from getting the RWA treatment? I am seriously tempted since a straight line out should improve sonics even further along with the higher-end DAC chips. Just wondering if there are any in-depth impression write-ups you may have come across on this mod on the Titan or the AK 120 going RWA?

post #10 of 22

Piercer,

 

I am like you looking for impressions on the rwa AK 120 mod versus a stock unit. I have not found it yet (a lot of posts to wade through on the AK 120!). 

 

However, I came across an excellent impression overview of the RWA AK 100 mod which you may find useful. It certainly shows there are significant SQ improvements to be had by going RWA.

 

I will share a 120 mod impression if I find it.

 

http://www.head-fi.org/t/649385/rwak100-iriver-ak100-mod-by-rwa

post #11 of 22

Has anyone with either the LCD-X or IE-800 paired with an AK120 made the RWAK120 mod? What were the noticeable differences? I emailed Vinnie to ask the same question, but all he said was that the frequency response would get flatter. Having had a look at the LCD-X and IE-800 FR graphs, Vinnie's email tells me is that both phones will sound brighter because their curves dip in the high range.

 

Am I reading this right?

 

Thanks

post #12 of 22

Hello to everyone...I just wanted to comment on your post regrading EQ settings and the AK 120. I believe your comment was:

 

"EQ is heresy in our audiophile circles and this is the first I ever use tone controls on my audio listening."

 

lol agreed and so very true... As a person "brand new" to this forum and having just purchased the Shure SE 846 IEM I got a chance to listen to a demo AK 100 at a local store (as I'm  thinking of purchasing the AK 100 MkII or AK 120) I noticed the following...

 

If I played one of the sample songs that comes by default with the device and go to the EQ section, the EQ slider is in the off position.  Yes of course that makes sense.  To me this implies NO EQ is enabled.  Next I move the button (or slider) to enable the EQ settings. Ok a menu appears with the 5 preset frequency bands. So as an audiophile I automatically flatten the 5 frequency bands to 0 db gain and listen again.  This time I notice its "still sounds good"  but honestly really very plain!   If I leave the slider in the default or off position I notice a significant difference in the sound stage and other key elements of audio fidelity as well.  As if the EQ settings are enabled and enhanced significantly by default with the slider in the off position.  As an audiophile this is exactly the opposite of what I would expect from this device!  

Has anyone had a similar experience?

 

As a side note:

I would not spend the money to change or modify your AK 120 from the default 3.3 ohms to less than 1 ohms setting.  Some prior references to the difference going from the original AK 100 to the AK 100 MK II is much larger i.e. 20 ohms vs. 3.3 ohms and I can appreciate that.  But what happens with respect to the manufacture original warrantee  if you need to get your AK 120 serviced if it breaks after its been modified or if iRiver provides a firmware upgrade that can potentially effect your machine.  I just don't honestly see the upside here.

 

Sincerely Speedracer1 (Aka Tom)     

post #13 of 22

I was thinking of purchasing a similar rig for my daily commute to / from NYC.  What other DAC's did you preview before your AK 120 purchase?  I was also thinking of the Hifiman 901. All comments welcome.

 

Thank you in advance

Speedracer1 (aka) Tom

post #14 of 22

goodvibes,

 

A sincere "thank you" for providing the graphs for the SE 846.  It's very revealing.  Just a few questions:

 

It's shocking the frequency response drops so sharply after 10K!  I thought these amazing IEM go out (in frequency) to 20khz or greater?

 

Whats the  sense of a 20khz frequency response if your down from neutral (0db)  30 or more DB's at 16khz.  Your not going to hear it anyway?

 

Speedracer1 (aka) Tom

post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by speedracer1 View Post
 

Hello to everyone...I just wanted to comment on your post regrading EQ settings and the AK 120. I believe your comment was:

 

"EQ is heresy in our audiophile circles and this is the first I ever use tone controls on my audio listening."

 

lol agreed and so very true... As a person "brand new" to this forum and having just purchased the Shure SE 846 IEM I got a chance to listen to a demo AK 100 at a local store (as I'm  thinking of purchasing the AK 100 MkII or AK 120) I noticed the following...

 

If I played one of the sample songs that comes by default with the device and go to the EQ section, the EQ slider is in the off position.  Yes of course that makes sense.  To me this implies NO EQ is enabled.  Next I move the button (or slider) to enable the EQ settings. Ok a menu appears with the 5 preset frequency bands. So as an audiophile I automatically flatten the 5 frequency bands to 0 db gain and listen again.  This time I notice its "still sounds good"  but honestly really very plain!   If I leave the slider in the default or off position I notice a significant difference in the sound stage and other key elements of audio fidelity as well.  As if the EQ settings are enabled and enhanced significantly by default with the slider in the off position.  As an audiophile this is exactly the opposite of what I would expect from this device!  

Has anyone had a similar experience?

 

As a side note:

I would not spend the money to change or modify your AK 120 from the default 3.3 ohms to less than 1 ohms setting.  Some prior references to the difference going from the original AK 100 to the AK 100 MK II is much larger i.e. 20 ohms vs. 3.3 ohms and I can appreciate that.  But what happens with respect to the manufacture original warrantee  if you need to get your AK 120 serviced if it breaks after its been modified or if iRiver provides a firmware upgrade that can potentially effect your machine.  I just don't honestly see the upside here.

 

Sincerely Speedracer1 (Aka Tom)     


I actually did go for the RWA AK120 B-mod and here's why - it's much more than the impedance difference (although this does also make a difference in SQ for me), the DACs are one-step up from the stock AK DACs (top of the line), the output is true balanced out and it is a true line out (bypassing the rather poor internal headphone amp and volume control for a cleaner, straighter path - does it all make a difference? You bet. All this is detailed on Vinnie's website. If you want to take the AK 120 to an even higher level, this does it IMHO. And as far as the warranty, Vinnie stands by his work for the life of the original owner's use and will help on any AK part failures as well. The AK warranty is only one year.

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