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REVIEW: Astell & Kern AK240 - Page 3

post #31 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by ianmedium View Post

Thanks so much Rudi, I trust your ears greatly, what you have written has renewed my interest in the 240, thank you!

You are welcome Ian
I Wish to buy , First i must sellmy AK 120 , HDP R 10 and Studio V 3rd anv to top Up AK 240:D
post #32 of 104
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ianmedium View Post

Thanks so much Rudi, I trust your ears greatly, what you have written has renewed my interest in the 240, thank you!

 

Ian, are you in a position to try it out anytime soon?  IOW, is it coming to a meet or show near you?  If not, and you're willing to travel, we'd love to have you at our SoCal Head-Fi Meet!

 

 

We've been working hard to make is an event that is not to be missed, with tons of recent gear, like the AK240.  :smile:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rudi0504 View Post

I Wish to buy , First i must sellmy AK 120 , HDP R 10 and Studio V 3rd anv to top Up AK 240:D

 

I know the feeling... :smile: 

post #33 of 104
Thanks Warren. I am really lucky that in Vancouver we have a dedicated headphone store who stocks A&K so as soon as its in I will go listen to it.

I am really grateful for your thoughts on the CD replay. Most of my music is ripped from CD into FLAC though my high resolution stuff is increasing but still 95% of what I have is from my extensive CD collection so replaying CD's as well as the 120 does or better is really important to me.

The other thing is I can't wait to hear what the 240 is like through my TU-05 amp. That amp is such a great amp and it has showed how one can lift the 120 way beyond what you would expect from a portable. I can only begin to imagine what it and the 240 would be like!
post #34 of 104
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ianmedium View Post

Thanks Warren. I am really lucky that in Vancouver we have a dedicated headphone store who stocks A&K so as soon as its in I will go listen to it.

I am really grateful for your thoughts on the CD replay. Most of my music is ripped from CD into FLAC though my high resolution stuff is increasing but still 95% of what I have is from my extensive CD collection so replaying CD's as well as the 120 does or better is really important to me.

The other thing is I can't wait to hear what the 240 is like through my TU-05 amp. That amp is such a great amp and it has showed how one can lift the 120 way beyond what you would expect from a portable. I can only begin to imagine what it and the 240 would be like!

 

Now that you mention it, I think I know someone that made a 4-hour drive to get to said dealer in Vancouver (to pick up his AK120).

 

You're totally welcome!  Anytime you'd like to come out to a SoCal event BTW, just lemme know.  :smile:

 

I was a little surprised to hear that people didn't like 16/44.1 on the AK240.  For me, the main breakpoint came between lossy and lossless.  Almost every form and bitrate of lossy suffered, while 16/44.1 sounded great.  24/96 and 24/192 sounded better of course, but not in a way that shames 16/44.1.  DSD sounded OMGWTFBBQ - even if I didn't like the music all that much.

 

I haven't heard the TU-05 yet... but if the reputation holds true, I could imagine that would be quite something!  I myself am content with the AK240 by itself under most conditions.  But if I were to add an amp, the upcoming Cavalli portable is the apple of my eye ATM.

post #35 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by lin0003 View Post
 

Interesting review... Can you guys do a detailed comparison with the HM-901 which is perceived to be the best DAP currently on the market? 

 

Comparing the two head to head at CES, in a nutshell, HM-901 has better sound quality overall for less than half the cost.  The AK240, however has a vastly superior UI and physical build quality.  I find the AK240's implementation of balanced output being a separate 2.5mm jack and requiring a menu change to be much more awkward than the HM-901 using a standard 4 pole 3.5mm jack that can use both single ended and balanced.  The HM-901 has a physical switch for switching between balanced and single ended, but it's rather easy to accidentally switch.  But it doesn't break anything, just sounds weird.

 

So in the end, it's whether or not the the superior UI of the AK240 is worth the money is up to you.

 

I'm thinking the upcoming Calyx M may be a better competitor, but who knows.  It sounds better on paper, but I guess we'll have to see.

post #36 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwood View Post
 

 

Comparing the two head to head at CES, in a nutshell, HM-901 has better sound quality overall for less than half the cost.  The AK240, however has a vastly superior UI and physical build quality.  I find the AK240's implementation of balanced output being a separate 2.5mm jack and requiring a menu change to be much more awkward than the HM-901 using a standard 4 pole 3.5mm jack that can use both single ended and balanced.  The HM-901 has a physical switch for switching between balanced and single ended, but it's rather easy to accidentally switch.  But it doesn't break anything, just sounds weird.

 

So in the end, it's whether or not the the superior UI of the AK240 is worth the money is up to you.

 

I'm thinking the upcoming Calyx M may be a better competitor, but who knows.  It sounds better on paper, but I guess we'll have to see.

Thanks Ed for your honest view.  The reviewers did a great job with the piece but $2499 is still way too much for a portable DAP for me and most people.  Wonder if Warren and Mike can get their hand on the Sony NW-ZX1 and review against the AK240 for us.  My ZX1 has a near perfect UI (running a full Andriod 4.1) and is also able to stream hi-rez files via stock DLNA or bubbleuPnP app.  Its short coming is the 128GB non-expandable storage but at a third of the price of the AK240 it isn't a bad buy.  Adding a highend portable amp like the Pico Power and I'm suspected that the two will be neck to neck performance wise.  Many users have reports that the ZX1's headphone output + CIEMs is also near HM901 in sound quality.    

post #37 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwood View Post

Comparing the two head to head at CES, in a nutshell, HM-901 has better sound quality overall for less than half the cost.  The AK240, however has a vastly superior UI and physical build quality.  I find the AK240's implementation of balanced output being a separate 2.5mm jack and requiring a menu change to be much more awkward than the HM-901 using a standard 4 pole 3.5mm jack that can use both single ended and balanced.  The HM-901 has a physical switch for switching between balanced and single ended, but it's rather easy to accidentally switch.  But it doesn't break anything, just sounds weird.

So in the end, it's whether or not the the superior UI of the AK240 is worth the money is up to you.

I'm thinking the upcoming Calyx M may be a better competitor, but who knows.  It sounds better on paper, but I guess we'll have to see.

Let's not forget the AK240 also has...
1. Built-in 256GB memory which is like $400
2. USB DAC. The Hm901 requires a converter or the upcoming dock which is another $300-400
3. Native DSD support
4. Balanced line-out (with an optional adapter, I think). The 901 doesn't have this option (yet)
5. Wireless streaming
post #38 of 104

The AK240 looks sexy.  Can't say the same about the others.  

Reply
post #39 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by HiFiGuy528 View Post

The AK240 looks sexy.  Can't say the same about the others.  
Totally subjective...some people find it horrible, others sexy. I find it ok but prefer the ak120, ZX1 or Calyx to the AK240 in terms of design.
post #40 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by warrenpchi View Post

Now that you mention it, I think I know someone that made a 4-hour drive to get to said dealer in Vancouver (to pick up his AK120).

You're totally welcome!  Anytime you'd like to come out to a SoCal event BTW, just lemme know.  smile.gif

I was a little surprised to hear that people didn't like 16/44.1 on the AK240.  For me, the main breakpoint came between lossy and lossless.  Almost every form and bitrate of lossy suffered, while 16/44.1 sounded great.  24/96 and 24/192 sounded better of course, but not in a way that shames 16/44.1.  DSD sounded OMGWTFBBQ - even if I didn't like the music all that much.

I haven't heard the TU-05 yet... but if the reputation holds true, I could imagine that would be quite something!  I myself am content with the AK240 by itself under most conditions.  But if I were to add an amp, the upcoming Cavalli portable is the apple of my eye ATM.

If your ever up here Warren your more than welcome to listen to my TU-05, it really is a wonderful amp. I often compare its sound to either Nagra or Kondo Audio Note, both of which I have extensive experience in listening to.

There is the combination of inky black sonic, clarity and warmth and I believe the new transformers that are now shipping with the latest amps add a bit more bass depth (though judicious tube rolling can solve that one!)

I am so very happy to hear your comments about the CD replay. I am so looking forward to hearing this one!

I was actually in LA last month for work but have one of those rare times this next couple of months of no flying! If I had been down there I would have been along in a heartbeat!
post #41 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by pekingduck View Post


Let's not forget the AK240 also has...
1. Built-in 256GB memory which is like $400
2. USB DAC. The Hm901 requires a converter or the upcoming dock which is another $300-400
3. Native DSD support
4. Balanced line-out (with an optional adapter, I think). The 901 doesn't have this option (yet)
5. Wireless streaming


1. Welcome to 2013, 256GB of NAND flash hasn't been $400 for several years.  It's more like $100, tops and retail price at that.  OEM cost is cheaper.  Unless the AK240 has SLC memory like an SSD. 

2. USB DAC, yes.  HM-901 does not have this function built in.  Major oversight IMO.

3. HM-901 also has DSD support.  

4. Both have Balanced Headphone outs, neither has true Balanced Line Outs at the moment.  Maybe that will change.

5. Sounds interesting, but if I'm going to tether to music on a server, I'd rather just run it as a DAC and use better software like Foobar.  But either way, the AK240 wins on both counts as it supports USB DAC internally.

 

In the end, the $2500 cost (and polarizing industrial design) is the AK240's major downside.  I find it difficult to find the value there.  Other than extreme mark up in price, even if the AK240 were actually made of solid milled titanium alloy, it's still vastly overpriced, there's no arguing that one.  And the UI is just built up on Android, wasn't developed from scratch.  But the UI is done right, unlike the HM-901 which is also built up on Android, but is quite terrible.  But extreme mark up in price is quite common in the "audiophile" world.  But just because something costs more does not always make it better. 

 

I, personally like a product artificially more premium by just having a higher price tag, but iRiver can charge whatever it wants.  They obviously want a smaller market and to keep the AK240 "special".   Which is fine.  But in the end, it's all about sound quality, and the AK240, unfortunately falls a bit short.  And for $2500, it shouldn't have any compromises, especially in the sound quality department.  It's a lot cheaper to compromise on sound quality and have convenience, which is why Apple dominates the market.

 

The upcoming Calyx M is more of a real contender for the AK240.  It has the potential to be superior.   The UI also borrows from standard Android UI (rather than throwing them out the window like the HM-901).  The ESS Sabre chipset has the potential to have noticeably better sound quality as well, but how well it's implemented will remain to be heard.  The industrial design is much more restrained and classic, and looks to be much more pocket friendly, let alone comfortable to hold in a right hand.  But it's vaporware right now, and iRiver has already delivered a real product.

post #42 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwood View Post
 


1. Welcome to 2013, 256GB of NAND flash hasn't been $400 for several years.  It's more like $100, tops and retail price at that.  OEM cost is cheaper.  Unless the AK240 has SLC memory like an SSD. 

2. USB DAC, yes.  HM-901 does not have this function built in.  Major oversight IMO.

3. HM-901 also has DSD support.  

4. Both have Balanced Headphone outs, neither has true Balanced Line Outs at the moment.  Maybe that will change.

5. Sounds interesting, but if I'm going to tether to music on a server, I'd rather just run it as a DAC and use better software like Foobar.  But either way, the AK240 wins on both counts as it supports USB DAC internally.

 

In the end, the $2500 cost (and polarizing industrial design) is the AK240's major downside.  I find it difficult to find the value there.  Other than extreme mark up in price, even if the AK240 were actually made of solid milled titanium alloy, it's still vastly overpriced, there's no arguing that one.  And the UI is just built up on Android, wasn't developed from scratch.  But the UI is done right, unlike the HM-901 which is also built up on Android, but is quite terrible.  But extreme mark up in price is quite common in the "audiophile" world.  But just because something costs more does not always make it better. 

 

I, personally like a product artificially more premium by just having a higher price tag, but iRiver can charge whatever it wants.  They obviously want a smaller market and to keep the AK240 "special".   Which is fine.  But in the end, it's all about sound quality, and the AK240, unfortunately falls a bit short.  And for $2500, it shouldn't have any compromises, especially in the sound quality department.  It's a lot cheaper to compromise on sound quality and have convenience, which is why Apple dominates the market.

 

The upcoming Calyx M is more of a real contender for the AK240.  It has the potential to be superior.   The UI also borrows from standard Android UI (rather than throwing them out the window like the HM-901).  The ESS Sabre chipset has the potential to have noticeably better sound quality as well, but how well it's implemented will remain to be heard.  The industrial design is much more restrained and classic, and looks to be much more pocket friendly, let alone comfortable to hold in a right hand.  But it's vaporware right now, and iRiver has already delivered a real product.

 

AK240 has balanced LO using the box thingy, with HO as ground and BO for audio.

post #43 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwood View Post




3. HM-901 also has DSD support.  

The 901 does not play Native. It converts to PCM. The 240 not only plays Native DSD but also double DSD.
post #44 of 104
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwood View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by lin0003 View Post
 

Interesting review... Can you guys do a detailed comparison with the HM-901 which is perceived to be the best DAP currently on the market? 

 

Comparing the two head to head at CES, in a nutshell, HM-901 has better sound quality overall for less than half the cost.  The AK240, however has a vastly superior UI and physical build quality.  I find the AK240's implementation of balanced output being a separate 2.5mm jack and requiring a menu change to be much more awkward than the HM-901 using a standard 4 pole 3.5mm jack that can use both single ended and balanced.  The HM-901 has a physical switch for switching between balanced and single ended, but it's rather easy to accidentally switch.  But it doesn't break anything, just sounds weird.

 

Thanks for the comparison Edwood!  :smile:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwood View Post
 

I'm thinking the upcoming Calyx M may be a better competitor, but who knows.  It sounds better on paper, but I guess we'll have to see.

 

I think so too.  In fact, if I had one worry for A&K in terms of competition, it would be Calyx M.  I haven't heard/used it yet, but it seems to have a good mix of capabilities, UI and portability - at an attractive price to boot.  We'll see I guess!

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by purk View Post
 

The reviewers did a great job with the piece but $2499 is still way too much for a portable DAP for me and most people.  Wonder if Warren and Mike can get their hand on the Sony NW-ZX1 and review against the AK240 for us.  My ZX1 has a near perfect UI (running a full Andriod 4.1) and is also able to stream hi-rez files via stock DLNA or bubbleuPnP app.

 

Thanks purk!  Actually, AnakChan mentioned that we should do comparison between the AK240, 901 and ZX1 as well.  I'm also thinking of throwing the Calyx into that mix.  Well, it wouldn't be a 1:1:1:1 comparison as they do hit different segments of the market.  But maybe a comparison of the common elements (like SQ, etc.)?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ianmedium View Post

If your ever up here Warren your more than welcome to listen to my TU-05, it really is a wonderful amp. I often compare its sound to either Nagra or Kondo Audio Note, both of which I have extensive experience in listening to.

There is the combination of inky black sonic, clarity and warmth and I believe the new transformers that are now shipping with the latest amps add a bit more bass depth (though judicious tube rolling can solve that one!)

I am so very happy to hear your comments about the CD replay. I am so looking forward to hearing this one!

I was actually in LA last month for work but have one of those rare times this next couple of months of no flying! If I had been down there I would have been along in a heartbeat!

 

I think the closet I'll be for a little while is Toronto (for TAVES).  That said, thanks much for the invite!  ASP stuff is just do delightfully funky, that it's on my bucket list for sure!  BTW, next time you're down here in L.A., lemme know.  I'm at warren[DOT]chi(AT)audio360.org.  :smile:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edwood View Post
 

The upcoming Calyx M is more of a real contender for the AK240.

 

Yup.  Edwood, are you going to have a chance to check it out anytime soon?

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by z3r0day View Post
 

box thingy

 

Lol, I don't now the model designation for that piece, but they better get it out there soon before "box thingy" sticks.

post #45 of 104
Quote:
Originally Posted by ianmedium View Post


The 901 does not play Native. It converts to PCM. The 240 not only plays Native DSD but also double DSD.


Which is awesome for the handful of quality music in DSD. 

 

Argh, damn you, music industry.   **shakes fist**  :(

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