AK Astell & Kern Recorder PRF11 owners thread
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jonstatt

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So I may be one of the first to get one of these AK recorders. I bought it for two reasons
 
1) To record piano and guitar using phantom powered XLR microphones
2) To record into DSD 128 some of my vinyl collection where the record version benefits from either a) being a mastering on vinyl only such as jazz records or b) greater dynamic range on vinyl version which is quite common for modern releases and not victim to the loudness wars
 
The unit is doing well with 2) but failing completely with 1)
 
AK sell two versions of this unit.
1) Recorder on its own with 2 mini XLR to full size XLR cables in the box
2) Recorder with two microphones (VERY expensive). These microphones fit to the front of the recorder with an included screw-in attachment and are phantom powered by 5v
 
 
I have four types of microphone
1) Rode NT3 (48v or battery)
2) Rode M3 (48v or battery)
3) Marantz PMP-3000 (48v)
4) Sony XLR microphone for video camera (5v-48v)
 
 
With 1-3, NONE of the 48v microphones work properly with this recorder. I did check with a volt meter that the unit is outputting 48v, and it is. Yet, all I am getting on the recorder is static. If I adjust the gain right the way up, amongst the now VERY loud static, I can just about make out my voice, but it is unusable.
 
With 4 (Sony mic), set to 5v, it works perfectly. Sound quality is excellent and SNR seems good too. Interestingly 5v is the same value for AK's own microphone bundle. I am starting to think all their testing was done with this.
 
With 1 and 2 using a built-in battery and phantom power disabled on the AK Recorder, that should work too right? No. I can record stuff this way as it is picking up sound, but it is quiet and increasing the gain to compensate causes noise.
 
So the only combination properly working is 5v phantom power. Everything else is not right. Initially I thought my unit was faulty. But I am not convinced it is because a) 5v is working showing both L/R mic inputs are able to record high fidelity sound and b) the volt meter shows 48v being output and the voltage is not collapsing under use. So I am thinking this is more likely firmware related and AK have done all their testing with their own mics and just hoped the rest works! :frowning2:
 
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yates7592

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Good luck with finding a solution. I'm sure A&K will sort this problem out. I'm very interested in this recorder primarily to use 2 x 48V phatom powered microphones (DPA4006C) with a high resolution recording format such as DXD or DSD. You have to use an AK 3xx DAP with this module as well, it's not an all in one recorder correct? Assuming that to be the case then my primary concern is two pieces of equipment both with separate rechargeable batteries and so two things that can go wrong i.e. run out of juice at the critical point in your recording. Other than that it looks an amazing piece of kit.
 
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jonstatt

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  Good luck with finding a solution. I'm sure A&K will sort this problem out. I'm very interested in this recorder primarily to use 2 x 48V phatom powered microphones (DPA4006C) with a high resolution recording format such as DXD or DSD. You have to use an AK 3xx DAP with this module as well, it's not an all in one recorder correct? Assuming that to be the case then my primary concern is two pieces of equipment both with separate rechargeable batteries and so two things that can go wrong i.e. run out of juice at the critical point in your recording. Other than that it looks an amazing piece of kit.
 
Thanks for the reply. You do need an AK 3xx DAP as well, yes. The DAP provides the screen/interface and is essentially driving the recording hardware. Both the Recorder and DAP have independent batteries as you assumed. You can power both devices with a 3A (!) USB charger.
 
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yates7592

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And presumably if you want to record in 32/384 or 5.6MHz DSD then you need the AK380 rather than the other 'cheaper' DAP options (because AK300/AK320 can't handle those high rate formats)?
 
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jonstatt

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  And presumably if you want to record in 32/384 or 5.6MHz DSD then you need the AK380 rather than the other 'cheaper' DAP options (because AK300/AK320 can't handle those high rate formats)?

That's a good question. I am not sure. The ADC would have to be in the recorder itself rather than the DAP, as the DAP would only have a DAC.
 
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fabiete

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Hi everyone!
 
Just purchased the AK Recorder (basic version) to use it with my AK380 to transfer some of my vinyl records to 24/192 or DSD.
 
I have not managed to do a full recording, even of one single track, because when I stop recording and go to the resulting file the latter is very short and I have the impression it gets shorter if I increase the sampling frequency or go from PCM to DSD.
 
For the little I have got, the results are astounding 
. Now I have to understand how the thing works..............
 
One very basic question. Has anyone managed to find a proper User's Manual?
 
The tiny Quick Start Guide mentions http://www.astellnkern.com/ ==> Support ==> Downloads but there is no trace of it......

 
Any hints?
 
Thanks in advance
 
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jonstatt

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Okay.....problem solved! All of the PRF11 cables, or at least a batch of them are wrongly wired! After trying a second recorder and finding the same issue, I took the unit to a professional sound engineer and he quickly determined the bundled XLR cables are wired wrongly.
 
The bundled ones are
 
       pin
XLR 1 -- 2 Mini XLR
XLR 2 -- 1 Mini XLR
XLR 3 -- 3 Mini XLR
 
This is not correct and would be the wiring for a male full size XLR to female full size XLR! The 3rd party cables I bought which match the specification are
 
       pin
XLR 1 -- 1 Mini XLR
XLR 2 -- 3 Mini XLR
XLR 3 -- 2 Mini XLR
 
These work perfectly and the newest AK380 v1.32 firmware fixes a few other niggles.
 
The bundled cables look and feel expensive and must make a noticeable part of the price of the package so I am pursuing this with AK

 
Finally I can get on with some recording.
 
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jonstatt

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  Hi everyone!
 
Just purchased the AK Recorder (basic version) to use it with my AK380 to transfer some of my vinyl records to 24/192 or DSD.
 
I have not managed to do a full recording, even of one single track, because when I stop recording and go to the resulting file the latter is very short and I have the impression it gets shorter if I increase the sampling frequency or go from PCM to DSD.
 
For the little I have got, the results are astounding 
. Now I have to understand how the thing works..............
 
One very basic question. Has anyone managed to find a proper User's Manual?
 
The tiny Quick Start Guide mentions http://www.astellnkern.com/ ==> Support ==> Downloads but there is no trace of it......

 
Any hints?
 
Thanks in advance

Hmm...I have not seen any manual as such either but I haven't had an issue with short tracks. To make sure you haven't accidentally changed a setting you shouldn't have, you can never to defaults at the top left corner and then create a profile specifically for your vinyl->AK380 config. I assume you have the latest 1.32 firmware now? I have recorded a few tracks from vinyl without issue (tracks are full size)
 
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jonstatt

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A&K have confirmed the bundled cables are wired wrongly and are issuing A recall on unsold units. New cables will be issued to those who contact support. Glad I wasn't going mad!
 
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jonstatt

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Following up. I have now received replacement cables from A&K's UK distributor and these cables are wired up correctly. So all is good now :)
 
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jonstatt

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The AK recorder app for control from a phone over wifi is now on the App Store.
 
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I haven't been able to get the app to work - doesn't find my recorder / ak380 set up. wi-fi is on. have you gotten it to work? do you have any suggestions? 
 
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jonstatt

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  I haven't been able to get the app to work - doesn't find my recorder / ak380 set up. wi-fi is on. have you gotten it to work? do you have any suggestions? 
 
Yes it works fine for me! I am not sure what could be causing your issues. Do you have Wi-Fi repeaters or multiple frequency SSIDs? What happens if you use the AK Connect app from your phone? Can you see the AK380 with that app? (Assumes your AK380 is connected at the time to WiFi and AK Connect is enabled in the menus)
 
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Lumbrical

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Thanks! I turned on the AK connect app in the AK380 and now the recorder app on my phone works fine. The Recorder app makes it a lot easier to keep an eye on recordings. I wish they would have mentioned the requirement for the AK connect being on somewhere in the instructions.  
 
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jonstatt

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(Cross post from AK380 thread but thought it useful to post here as well)
 
I have the AK recorder for my AK380 and recently tried an experiment of recording a record using it's innovative vinyl record ripping, cutting and labelling feature and then A/B switching between the record and the AK380. This is from my high-end system which consists of
 
Rega RP10 with Apheta 2 cartridge
Creek Wyndsor phono amp
Lexicon MC-12 in analog bypass
Bryston power amps
Kef Reference 4.2 speakers
AK380 using cradle and balanced output connections
 
I set the AK recorder to DSD 128 mode.
 
With a couple of friends over, I then proceeded (after level matching) to compare (blind to the friends) the record (Eagles Hotel California) with the AK380. They could not tell one from the other at all. I find this very interesting because the recording of course has gone through an ADC and DAC process albeit DSD 128, and it remains so transparent. Neither of these processes added colouration to the sound. This also goes to show that when I compared the Oppo 105D playing a CD vs the AK380 playing the same content, that the AK380 (which won my comparison) is the more "true", as tonally the AK380 sounded brighter against the Oppo.
 
In my own non-blind comparison  I would give the record directly the edge but I am splitting hairs and probably convincing myself because of course I want the pure analogue path to be better, justifying the highly contentious opinion that pure analogue sounds better than digital.
 
Regardless, it demonstrates the AK Recorder to be a very fine tool indeed!
 
Note DSD 128 creates demands on write speed. Most micro SD cards currently on the market do NOT have sufficient write speeds (for example 200 and 256 Micro SD cards from Sandisk in their Ultra range have write speeds less than half their read). This means you need to use internal memory for recording. Unfortunately the recording just bombs out without obvious error after a few seconds to a minute depending on the encoding and card, so do watch out for this happening.
 
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