There are lists of DIY-er out there who provides a decent mods for their players. A few of the famous one are Red Wine Audio and Mezzo Soprano.
Few weeks ago, I sent in my Ak100 to be mod by Mr Phanom from Mezzo Soprano to do a mod of MSAK100S. And turns out to be a great player for me and its really a great leap from the stock Ak100!
Would like to share some of the reviews from the mod. Its really something that need to be shared.
This is the website for the specification of the mod :http://www.mezzohifi.com/
Nowadays, the available mods for Astell&Kern Players mostly is on bypassing the impedance and swapping of the DAC chip.
At the early of the story, I approached Red Wine Audio to enquiry about the full mod for my Ak100 which is the RWAK100S. But the mod itself will remove the volume knob and restricted it as a standalone DAC and cant be use individually as a DAP. This bugs me as I always carry my AK100 to anyway as a DAP itself. Luckily I bump into Phanom from Mezzo Soprano which he will brings the best from the both world! I can bypass that annoying 22ohm impedance, upgrading the WM8740 DAC to WM8741 WITHOUT sacrificing the volume knob and it still can be used as a DAP! And also a digital filter is being added where you can alter the sound of it.
Without any concerns, the decision is made to send the unit in for Mr Phanom to do the mod.
The modded MSAK100S with the digital filter and a pretty handmade pouch from Mezzo Soprano.
The Magic of the Mod
After mod, you can obviously hear the mids and highs shines out and not being recessed by the 22ohm impedance anymore. A smoothen mids and a much extended highs with a tighten bass compared to the stock Ak100. I sold my portable amp after doing the mod as I dont need it anymore, the MSAK100S alone is already doing its job well enough
The whole clarity and transparency is significantly improved due to the WM8741 DAC upgrade.
The soundstage has became slightly wider.
And something impressive from this mod is the musicality and the dynamic improvement from the stock AK100.
The digital filter is something fun to play with as the filter off is the minimum phase soft knee and when turning on will brings it to minimum phase apodising filter mode.
When the digital is turned off, the vocals will tend to be sweeter and shines the strings of the music. Its like emphasising the beauty of the mids and the whole soundstage will be more airy.
When the digital filter is switched on (The red light is on), the music will become more focused and the bass will be tighten. This narrow the soundstage but delivers a better impact at the lows which is suitable for rock or pops.
I tried to compared this side by side with Ak120 from my friend. Somehow, the MSAK100S cant surpass the clarity and cleaness of the sound from Ak120. But, the MSAK100S delivers a dynamic and musicality which is absent in stock Ak120. Didnt have the chance to compare it to Ak240 though. However, its a brilliant mod had been done to my MSAk100S. They also provide mod for Ak120 too, which I am imagining how well Ak120 will sounds even more after the mod!
For my MSAK100S, I would consider this as a best mod available for my Ak100 and highly recommending it.