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Why are there no competent reviews of the Astell & Kern AK10?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

For something that made such a splash, I'm surprised that literally every professional review I've read has dropped the ball on this. I have yet to see anything that goes in depth with regards to how it sounds.


Shoot, I've yet to see anything that covers just the basics... I mean, nobody has felt compelled to divulge if the body is aluminum or plastic? Really? And how about that volume wheel... What's the resistance on that? It looks as if sliding it into a pocket could potentially jack the volume up and blow your head off. And how about that case. From a few angles I've managed to ascertain that there is some sort of single elastic strap there... Does it cover the middle of your phone's screen? No details on how that works? Seriously?


I've never seen so many reviews so poorly handled. I might just have to pull the trigger on one and do it right.  

Edited by Earbones - 1/16/14 at 7:50pm
post #2 of 12
Thread Starter 

Trigger pulled. Shipping from Korea, so figure on a couple of weeks before I can post a review.


Yeah, it's a bitch-and-moan post, but at least this obnoxious noob will put his money where his mouth is...

post #3 of 12
I'm not 100% sure, but could it be that beyerdynamic (with the a200p) has the rights to sell it in the USA and Europe? They just debuted it at CES and probably hasn't gotten in the right hands yet.
post #4 of 12

Kimvictor owns the AK100 and had/has the AK10.

He said he preferred the AK100, but maybe you could ask him for a more indepth review?

post #5 of 12

Also pulled the trigger on the Beyer a200p (from Ger) and they just processed my card this morning.  Should have it by next week or so but yeah i'm in the same boat no in-depth review at all anyware.

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

My AK10 just cleared customs at my local airport, I should (hopefully) have it by Monday or so... Figure on an in-depth review a week or so after that.

post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 

Scratch the above post... It just arrived



Edited by Earbones - 1/25/14 at 4:24pm
post #8 of 12

I have used the AK10 for 2 months. It seems there is little impression about this little jewellery, let me share a little about my personal feelings:


1. The most advantage of AK10 is portability. I stick this with my mobile phone by magic tape which is very handy and portable.

2. With the AK10, the most significant improvement is the silent background. No hiss at all.

3. There is certain improvement in the sound quality - more musical and punchy bass than the straight out from any mobile phone.

4. The sound is quite warm given the using of the chip - WM8740.

5. The bad side is the overall sound quality is average. There is improvement but really not too much. For those ching who looks for high standard of sound quality or desires a big improvement, better to look elsewhere.

6. The amp section is not good - this cannot drive well the high ohm headphone. Only good for those iem or easy to drive headphone. Thanks for watching.

post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 

I'll agree with most of what you said... I found the biggest advantage over the iPhone 5, 5s, Macbook Air and iPod Touch 5th gen (once I got a working one) was how the AK10 handles voices, particularly female voices. I noticed the bass differences as well, but to me it wasn't any better than the various Apple device's bass translations, just different. I think it's a subjective thing, some will prefer the Apple bass, others the AK10. I think both are excellent. 


I will say that you can notice slight hiss with the AK10 if you're using very sensitive IEMs, such as Westone UM2's or Senn IE800's. Most IEM's and certainly full-size headphones will not pick up any hiss at all, however. My Senn HD800's detected nothing but silence, for instance. By comparison, literally every other amp I've used has had more detectable hiss, so while the AK10 isn't completely perfect on that front, it's pretty much best-in-class as far as portable amps go. On the other hand, all of the Apple devices were true dead-black baselines with no hiss at all.


I briefly auditioned the AK10 with the Galaxy S4 work phone I occasionally use for work, and this is where I saw the biggest improvement in sound... The AK10 was better than the Samsung on basically all fronts.

Edited by Earbones - 2/14/14 at 5:14pm
post #10 of 12

Thanks Earbones. I am thinking to buy the IE800. Do you think the AK10 can drive the IE800 well?

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

Definitely drives the ie800 well... But then again, many things can, they are fairly easy to push. At the end of the day, the AK10 has a very low-powered amp. This isn't as terrible as many here would have you believe. The vast majority of modern headphones (most full-size cans and certainly all IEMs) are designed to be driven by smartphones. This isn't to say a larger amp won't bring out better sound, but not much out theres is going to be operating below specs when used with, say, an iPhone... Obviously there are exceptions (Senn HD800 springs to mind), but that's what most of the hard research says.

At the end of the day I think the AK10 has perhaps a slightly better DAC than the iPhone 5s, but the iPhone has a slightly better amp. 
post #12 of 12
In this other AK10 thread I've posted about the FW update that I've just done http://www.head-fi.org/t/685528/astell-kern-ak10-portable-dac-and-amp/250_50#post_10339437

And there's a review now on headfonics http://headfonics.com/2014/03/the-ak10-by-astell-kern/
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