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Brand Spanking New A&K AK120II and AK100II - Page 38

post #556 of 1533

Wow, thanks guys for the intensive reviews. However, I guess I have to say that I am extremely disappointed with the results. The fact that you both feel that the old AK120 beats both the new AK100/120 II doesn't say a whole lot for either of them in terms of SQ. I know that you both are fans of the old AK120, so it may just be a signature thing, but the fact that the featherweight X5 and DX90 can both consistently beat or tie the expensive old AK120 in reviews doesn't say a whole lot about the newer AK II models. I might as well continue using my X5 and DX90 and be happy that we cannot beat the sound quality they provide without paying an additional $3K or lugging around a brick.

 

The AK240 is the first DAP in a long time to stand toe to toe with the undisputed SQ champion, the HM-901 balanced. Given that the 901 is an ugly, poor ergonomically designed brick, I was really hoping to get close to that level of SQ with a more useful and attractive design with the new AK100 II at a similar price point. However, it is clear that AK has gimped their AK100/120 II models - even though they sport the same hardware design - so that they could justify the extremely stupid AK240 pricetag. I guess we will have to wait to see what the X7 has to offer next year.

 

I should point out that you guys did miss one important review item - the SE vs. balanced out for the AK240, AK120 II, and the AK100 II. Was the balanced output providing significant SQ value or was it just a marketing ploy? This was significant for the HM-901 in terms of hitting maximum sound quality. Maybe the AK100 II balanced out would wipe the floor with the old AK120, who knows?

post #557 of 1533

Yeah thanks a lot for these impressions!

 

Very surprised to see the AK120 (which I own) come out so well. Was expecting the AK100 II might have it beat.

post #558 of 1533
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barra View Post

 

The AK240 is the first DAP in a long time to stand toe to toe with the undisputed SQ champion, the HM-901 balanced.

 

Undisputed... on Head-Fi... you high? ;)

post #559 of 1533
Quote:
Originally Posted by Solude View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barra View Post

 

The AK240 is the first DAP in a long time to stand toe to toe with the undisputed SQ champion, the HM-901 balanced.

 

Undisputed... on Head-Fi... you high? ;)

 

I guess that is a legitimate question given that I live in Washington State where pot is newly legal. :wink_face:

 

However, you are right, nothing is undisputed here..... but you know what I'm sayin'. 

post #560 of 1533
I think AK idea is to push the existing AK120 owners to the AK240 as they are more inclined to stay "flagship" (for a few months, LoL) while encouraging the AK100 (which they really should, considering AK100 sounds so incompetent) owners to choose either the AK100II or AK120II. Hence, the verdict... For balance out, i am not sure its just a marketing ploy but I would incline to think so when the "line out" on the AK240 is not a true line out until getting it fixed by red wine.
Edited by CosmicHolyGhost - 6/5/14 at 4:56pm
post #561 of 1533
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barra View Post


I should point out that you guys did miss one important review item - the SE vs. balanced out for the AK240, AK120 II, and the AK100 II. Was the balanced output providing significant SQ value or was it just a marketing ploy? This was significant for the HM-901 in terms of hitting maximum sound quality. Maybe the AK100 II balanced out would wipe the floor with the old AK120, who knows?

FYI the balanced bit mattered a lot to HM901 not becoz it's balanced, but the Balanced AMP card is an entirely different and vastly improved AMP section over the stock amp card. With the balanced amp board, even single ended headphones/IEM beats it's stock amp pairing. Going to balanced MODE on balanced amp card is advantageous to some but not all phones imo.

For AK240, it's balanced mode bring even less difference/advantage compared to that of the HM901 balanced amp card. The change is very subtle and I doubt it would change much of "the verdict".
Quote:
Originally Posted by CosmicHolyGhost View Post

I think AK idea is to push the existing AK120 owners to the AK240 as they are more inclined to stay "flagship" (for a few months, LoL) while encouraging the AK100 (which they really should, considering AK100 sounds so incompetent) owners to choose either the AK100II or AK120II. Hence, the verdict... For balance out, i am not sure its just a marketing ploy but I would incline to think so when the "line out" on the AK240 is not a true line out until getting it fixed by red wine.

Very interesting and acute observations!! smily_headphones1.gif
post #562 of 1533
Thank you guys for the interesting and informative review. Makes a me feel a little better as an owner of the original AK120.

I always thought of the AK120 as a very capable DAP but slightly let down by its amp section.
Edited by eargo - 6/5/14 at 6:13pm
post #563 of 1533

Thanks so much for the work that went into the reviews and analysis!!  So I'm still absorbing it all but one thing strikes me right away.  If the 120 is better sounding than the 120 II, then why other than user interface would you purchase the 120 II?  If you are purchasing for interface then is interface worth $400 (Current 120 II price = $1700, current 120 pricing is $1300).  I definitely put sound quality first as well, but was really hoping it would go hand in hand with the better interface.  So to get both the best sound quality and interface it costs $800 more for than the 120 II and $1200 more than the 120. 

 

Scratching head.  Then as has been mentioned if its just about sound quality how will the DX90 fit into this line up.  This to me is the really elephant in the room. It would be great to get the same reviewers opinions on this.  It would add significantly to the analysis.  To date as far as I can see none of the other DAC offs have compared the DX90 with the rest of the mix.  I don't know if this is because the DX90 isn't worthy of comparison, or if its too strong of a competitor??  I realize its a huge task to make these comparisons.  That said many a boxing career has been made avoiding fighting the toughest competitor. 

 

I don't have a horse in this race, but would really like to get a new dac in my pocket.  I'm going to hold until things become clearer. 

 

Thanks again sincerely to everyone who has spent time reviewing players so far.  Its an awesome service and much appreciated!!!

post #564 of 1533
Wow that's a very disappointing result. I'm rethinking of getting the 120II now...
I assume the 120II shares the same internal layout and implementation with the 240 except for the XMOS chip, so did they purposely dumb down the sound to make it less stellar than the 240?

wonder if a firmware update will change that..
post #565 of 1533
Great write-up and great analyses guys!
That definitely helped in prefabricating the images before the units become available in my country!
Thanks again for the reviews. Happy listening!smily_headphones1.gif
post #566 of 1533
Thanks a lot for the insight 👌
Now I'm really confused tho.
The 120 for 1250 will give me a lot more space but it doesn't have the new UI of the 100ii which is 1000.
The 120 was said also to have a warmer sound but I prefer a neutral sound though I didn't mind the 120 when I tried them.
So confused frown.gif
post #567 of 1533
Quote:
Originally Posted by Barra View Post
 

Wow, thanks guys for the intensive reviews.

 

Originally Posted by likearake View Post
 

Yeah thanks a lot for these impressions!

 

Originally Posted by eargo View Post

Thank you guys for the interesting and informative review.

 

Originally Posted by prosperone View Post

Thanks so much for the work that went into the reviews and analysis!! 

 

Thanks guys!  :smile:  These were just early impressions.  When we go back and do a proper review, we'll try to provide a LOT more detail.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barra View Post
 

However, I guess I have to say that I am extremely disappointed with the results. The fact that you both feel that the old AK120 beats both the new AK100/120 II doesn't say a whole lot for either of them in terms of SQ. I know that you both are fans of the old AK120, so it may just be a signature thing, but the fact that the featherweight X5 and DX90 can both consistently beat or tie the expensive old AK120 in reviews doesn't say a whole lot about the newer AK II models. I might as well continue using my X5 and DX90 and be happy that we cannot beat the sound quality they provide without paying an additional $3K or lugging around a brick.

 

Originally Posted by eargo View Post

Thank you guys for the interesting and informative review. Makes a me feel a little better as an owner of the original AK120.

 

Originally Posted by Levanter View Post

Wow that's a very disappointing result. I'm rethinking of getting the 120II now...

 

Originally Posted by likearake View Post

Very surprised to see the AK120 (which I own) come out so well. Was expecting the AK100 II might have it beat.

 

Wait up guys, I just want to be very clear about something here... The AK120 and AK240 are very different sounding, especially in terms of frequency response.

 

Between the two, I absolutely favor the AK240's neutral signature over the AK120's sweeter signature.  Not sure if everyone has seen it, but I have a review of the AK240 posted here at Head-Fi... and in that review I'm very clear that I favor the AK240.

 

Now, the new AK100II and AK120II share the same neutral signature as the AK240 - and I know it should make perfect logical sense that I would prefer the AK100II and AK120II over the AK120 - but I just don't.  Why?

 

Because I've heard the AK240, and I know how good it can be.  If the AK100II and AK120II both sounded exactly like the AK240, both would be instabuys in my book, and definitely be placed ahead of the AK120.  But each of them fail to meet that target in ways that are important to me.  The AK120II has a diminshed soundstage versus the AK240.  The AK100II has a diminished soundstage AND lesser clarity than the AK240.

 

So given the choice of two imperfect neutral players, I'd rather have a perfect sweet player.

 

Here, lemme put it another way...

 

I like redheads (AK240).  Blondes (AK120) are okay, but I prefer redheads.  So in looking at the AK120II (a brunette dyed red) and AK100II (another brunette dyed red), I would of course like the real redhead (AK240).  But if I can't have the real redhead because she's too high maintenance (i.e. expensive), then I'll take the blonde (AK120).  I'd rather have a real blonde than a fake redhead.  Make sense?  This is not a reflection on brunettes BTW... just saying that I personally want the real deal, even if the real deal is not my ideal.  And for those who don't like the AK240, no it doesn't matter to me that gingers don't have souls so don't even go there.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Barra View Post

 

I should point out that you guys did miss one important review item - the SE vs. balanced out for the AK240, AK120 II, and the AK100 II. Was the balanced output providing significant SQ value or was it just a marketing ploy? This was significant for the HM-901 in terms of hitting maximum sound quality. Maybe the AK100 II balanced out would wipe the floor with the old AK120, who knows?

 

Originally Posted by kkcc View Post

FYI the balanced bit mattered a lot to HM901 not becoz it's balanced, but the Balanced AMP card is an entirely different and vastly improved AMP section over the stock amp card. With the balanced amp board, even single ended headphones/IEM beats it's stock amp pairing. Going to balanced MODE on balanced amp card is advantageous to some but not all phones imo.

For AK240, it's balanced mode bring even less difference/advantage compared to that of the HM901 balanced amp card. The change is very subtle and I doubt it would change much of "the verdict".

 

I touched on why I didn't want to go there in these early impressions, but rest assured I'll have something to say there in the full review.  :ksc75smile:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by prosperone View Post
 

So I'm still absorbing it all but one thing strikes me right away.  If the 120 is better sounding than the 120 II, then why other than user interface would you purchase the 120 II?

 

Just to be clear, I wouldn't say that the AK120 is better sounding.  I'm simply saying that, personally, I would rather have superbly good warmer/sweeter player than a pretty good neutral player.  :smile:

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Levanter View Post

I assume the 120II shares the same internal layout and implementation with the 240 except for the XMOS chip, so did they purposely dumb down the sound to make it less stellar than the 240?  wonder if a firmware update will change that..

 

No idea.  :confused:

post #568 of 1533

Thanks guys for taking the time to compare. I wish I'd brought my UERM's to hear the various players at THE show. As an AK120 owner I'm relieved by your findings, but I would still love to upgrade to the AK240. Maybe soon!

Thanks!

post #569 of 1533

BTW When is audio360 going to get around to the Hugo? Warren, do you want to borrow mine?

post #570 of 1533

I assume you guys didn't have time to compare the AK's as transports in feeding an external DAC....

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