Astell&Kern AK380
Aug 22, 2016 at 7:09 PM Post #6,256 of 8,987

roofus

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See my other post on this topic as well!
 
The benefit of the amp depends primarily on the impedance (efficiency) of your headphones/earphones. The amp gives you more choices on which devices to use. I have noticed no great difference in sound quality or battery life when using the amp, so unless you have very inefficient listening devices, save your money and take your wife or mistress, or both out for dinner!!!
 
Aug 22, 2016 at 11:17 PM Post #6,257 of 8,987

LouisArmstrong

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To me, the leap from AK380 to AK380Cu is much bigger than AK240 to AK380. The Cu is so much better that at $500 more it is a no brainer to get the Cu instead of the normal version. I have yet to hear the black though. The amp is pretty useless and mediocre at best - there are much better standalone amps out there. Buy it only if you think that a fitting amp's looks are more important than sound. Don't even bother with IEMs. Try getting a Meier Stepdance if possible - its sound just wipes the floor with the AK amp.
 
Aug 23, 2016 at 12:32 AM Post #6,258 of 8,987
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  To me, the leap from AK380 to AK380Cu is much bigger than AK240 to AK380. The Cu is so much better that at $500 more it is a no brainer to get the Cu instead of the normal version. I have yet to hear the black though. The amp is pretty useless and mediocre at best - there are much better standalone amps out there. Buy it only if you think that a fitting amp's looks are more important than sound. Don't even bother with IEMs. Try getting a Meier Stepdance if possible - its sound just wipes the floor with the AK amp.

 
@Mimouille is looking for users who have -not- heard a difference between the AK380 vs AK380Cu. If memory serves, I think the only person who reported here in this thread was @bmichels back in post #5121. However since then he's provided various (quality component upgrade) theories why the Cu may sound better so I can't tell if he does or doesn't hear a difference.
 
There's probably others who may have felt the same but I don't recall them reporting it here.
 
Aug 23, 2016 at 1:01 AM Post #6,259 of 8,987

Rei87

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@Mimouille is looking for users who have -not- heard a difference between the AK380 vs AK380Cu. If memory serves, I think the only person who reported here in this thread was @bmichels back in post #5121. However since then he's provided various (quality component upgrade) theories why the Cu may sound better so I can't tell if he does or doesn't hear a difference.
 
There's probably others who may have felt the same but I don't recall them reporting it here.



I have used the standard AK380 as a daily driver back then for a while, owned the AK380Black, and will probably soon own the Ak380CU unit that I am currently playing with. 

All 3 sound different. Period.CU sounds the most engaging (coloured) yet detailed, yet the Black the most clinical (reference), and the standard 380 just.....meh. ( if you can call a 4k player 'meh') lol....

I dont have any theories on why they sound, or should not sound different. What I do have, however, is time spent using all 3 versions as a personal unit, which IMO, actually works better than making impressions based on a technical spec list and a 10min demo in a shop/audio event. 
 
Aug 23, 2016 at 1:33 AM Post #6,260 of 8,987

haiku

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  To me, the leap from AK380 to AK380Cu is much bigger than AK240 to AK380. The Cu is so much better that at $500 more it is a no brainer to get the Cu instead of the normal version. I have yet to hear the black though. The amp is pretty useless and mediocre at best - there are much better standalone amps out there. Buy it only if you think that a fitting amp's looks are more important than sound. Don't even bother with IEMs. Try getting a Meier Stepdance if possible - its sound just wipes the floor with the AK amp.


I don´t think AK designed the amp to strangle the performance of their 300 series.
Yeah, get a Meier if you like rubber bands and ugly looks. My 2 cents.
 
Aug 23, 2016 at 2:42 AM Post #6,261 of 8,987

sonickarma

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Does anyone here think there is no difference between Ak380cu and stock? You can PM me if you want to avoid arguments on the thread.

Does anyone think there is no benefit to the amp when using iems?

I have had plenty of people with the opposite opinion on both and I would like to hear some contradiction.


Same firmware/settings configuration should also be a requirement for a fair comparison - IMO
 
Aug 23, 2016 at 3:14 AM Post #6,262 of 8,987

Rei87

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I don´t think AK designed the amp to strangle the performance of their 300 series.
Yeah, get a Meier if you like rubber bands and ugly looks. My 2 cents.



I also dont think that a person who has extensively used the AK + amp would say that too :)

Having personally used the AK amps, its good as a portable unified system, but it will never be as good as most third party dedicated amps (e.g. Kojo, ALO, Cypher labs, pico etc). These days I tend to go player only, and if i need an amp i rarely, if ever, use the AK unified amp. 
 
Aug 23, 2016 at 3:19 AM Post #6,263 of 8,987

productred

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Does anyone here think there is no difference between Ak380cu and stock? You can PM me if you want to avoid arguments on the thread.

Does anyone think there is no benefit to the amp when using iems?

I have had plenty of people with the opposite opinion on both and I would like to hear some contradiction.

 
Q: Does anyone here think there is no difference between Ak380cu and stock?
A: I personally was inclined to get the black.......................until I AB the regular and the Cu. Don't ask me why the Cu just sound fuller and a tad more revealing. Some say the cu sounds warmer than other versions but to me warmth is more or less the same across the versions
 
Q: Does anyone think there is no benefit to the amp when using iems?
A: Me. Or just the shoulder pain associated with carrying the amp (making the stack twice as heavy) outweighs the benefits to SQ, which are definitely audible. I have the amp but I seldom use it except for holidays which I'm sure I could settle down in a cafe or on the beach for lengthy listening sessions. 
 
Aug 23, 2016 at 4:13 AM Post #6,264 of 8,987

Mimouille

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Thanks guys, it is interesting that there are as many opinions as there are people. All quite honest. Some people wrote to me and told me they blind tested and heard no difference between versions. At this point I am thinking getting the copper or the black for the looks, without amp.
 
Aug 23, 2016 at 6:27 AM Post #6,265 of 8,987

muzic4life

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I tested my ak380 black with and without amp. The only thing i noticed is that the bass becoming a little more tighter, and somewhat the overall sound is getting a little brighter. I really don't get it why people always said to me with amp the sound is better. Better? or brighter? If they like the sound a little more brighter, then of course with amp is their choice. But what i really wanna say is that without amp, ak380 black is already suit my taste best. The most important part here, is the quality recording it self. Some recording it does sound warmer, and some of them is brighter, no matter what type of files they are (DSD, Flac24, WAV, Flac16). If the recording file i play is a little brighter (more open) then i do like the sound from AK380 alone, and if warmer, with amp should be nicer. My theory is that simple. And personally, i do prefer using AK380 alone without amp. (my amp its been in the drawer since the 1st day, i only tested couple times and i don't like the bulky looking)
 
Is AK380cu better? i will find out soon to prove how good they are. But one thing for sure, IMHO, on certain songs, i do believe it sounded better if we use regular/black ak380 (on certain IEM/CIEM/Headfon). The gear matching is also the most important part in the chain.
 
Aug 23, 2016 at 11:17 PM Post #6,266 of 8,987

LouisArmstrong

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  I tested my ak380 black with and without amp. The only thing i noticed is that the bass becoming a little more tighter, and somewhat the overall sound is getting a little brighter. I really don't get it why people always said to me with amp the sound is better. Better? or brighter? If they like the sound a little more brighter, then of course with amp is their choice. But what i really wanna say is that without amp, ak380 black is already suit my taste best. The most important part here, is the quality recording it self. Some recording it does sound warmer, and some of them is brighter, no matter what type of files they are (DSD, Flac24, WAV, Flac16). If the recording file i play is a little brighter (more open) then i do like the sound from AK380 alone, and if warmer, with amp should be nicer. My theory is that simple. And personally, i do prefer using AK380 alone without amp. (my amp its been in the drawer since the 1st day, i only tested couple times and i don't like the bulky looking)
 
Is AK380cu better? i will find out soon to prove how good they are. But one thing for sure, IMHO, on certain songs, i do believe it sounded better if we use regular/black ak380 (on certain IEM/CIEM/Headfon). The gear matching is also the most important part in the chain.


​Same thoughts on the amp. We can't stop people from buying it obviously but there seems to be an unfounded consensus on Head-fi that a separate headphone amp would make the sound better, regardless of the DAP one is using and regardless how sensitive the IEM is. With the Mojo, for example, I find that it suits most of my high end IEMs (K10 custom, UE18 Pro, JH Audio Layla, SE846) best when used directly, and is better sounding than hooking it up to a separate headphone amp (I am talking about TOTL portable amps like SR71A/B, ALORX3). For basshead IEMs I would hook it up with the C5 amp.  For the copper, I find the size to become not portable anymore if I use it with the AK amp, and for the amp the difference is just negligible, or in the case of the more sensitive IEMs, it just makes the sound coarse. If I can sit down at home, I much prefer my home headphone setup.
 
Aug 24, 2016 at 3:40 AM Post #6,267 of 8,987

Mimouille

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​Same thoughts on the amp. We can't stop people from buying it obviously but there seems to be an unfounded consensus on Head-fi that a separate headphone amp would make the sound better, regardless of the DAP one is using and regardless how sensitive the IEM is. With the Mojo, for example, I find that it suits most of my high end IEMs (K10 custom, UE18 Pro, JH Audio Layla, SE846) best when used directly, and is better sounding than hooking it up to a separate headphone amp (I am talking about TOTL portable amps like SR71A/B, ALORX3). For basshead IEMs I would hook it up with the C5 amp.  For the copper, I find the size to become not portable anymore if I use it with the AK amp, and for the amp the difference is just negligible, or in the case of the more sensitive IEMs, it just makes the sound coarse. If I can sit down at home, I much prefer my home headphone setup.
How do you think the Mojo compared to the CU with sensitive iems?
 
Aug 27, 2016 at 11:31 AM Post #6,269 of 8,987

doc0075579

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Good morning, wanted to give you all a heads up that I just posted my AK380 Black up for sale. It's a great player, I just don't use it enough to justify the price . Bought just a couple months ago. Priced to sell quickly.
 
Aug 27, 2016 at 4:08 PM Post #6,270 of 8,987

Jalo

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Can anyone confirm if the surface of the 380CU can conduct a current? Been toying with an idea to deal with the damn copper corrosion without a weekly polishing ritual.


This is where my patience becomes a little thin with AK. Many many other products/manufacturers on these forums like Chord Hugo, DAVE, Mojo, abyss, Audeze, ALO, Woo, Norne, Shiite, Cavali etc and many others will contribute and provide product information on their product forum. If AK engineers can answer questions like these or if there is any difference between 380cu vs regular or black, etc will be so great to their customers. Chord is the best among all companies, their chief engineer Rob Watt will write pages about their technology and products.AK really need to step up.
 

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