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Astell&Kern AK380

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by Dopaminer, Apr 22, 2015.
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  1. justin07
    Been polishing it for quite a while...(I have one of Aesopica's case too), but my hands are getting tired and I am getting lazier. I guess, I just have to be contented with good sound and a dull looking copper set. Lol
  2. xxx1313
    You need a good polish which also retards the tarnishing. I use Unipol, which is normally used for polishing metal wind musical instruments. Wenol/Glanol, for example, would be fine as well. Moreover, I also have an Aesopica case, and the A&K remote control, so that I do not have to touch the cu frequently. So polishing my cu once a month is enough to keep it shining.
    rumina likes this.
  3. bflat
    PEM13 Dock Questions

    I currently have the PEM13 balanced out connected to my ALO CDM with an XLR to 2.5mm adapter. I used the same adapter with my Teac UD-503 XLR balanced out without issue. I have a couple questions that I could use help if anyone knows the answers:

    1) I hear major hum/buzz that sounds like a ground loop issue from the CDM. When I play music, hum goes away. When I run just on battery power on the CDM, hum goes away. Anyone know of a way to eliminate this altogether? I am going to try a ground loop eliminator AC adapter. This was not a problem with my Teac DAC.

    2) As far as I can tell, when docked with XLR out, AK380 will not work in fixed line out mode. I can only control output with the volume wheel. I suppose the dock is more of a pre-amp with variable output. Since this is at the analog stage I think it's fine. Is there a way to make this just a fixe line out mode on the XLR outputs?

    Update -after some trial and error I found my answers/solutions

    1) I assumed the buzz was due to not have grounds connected from AK380 to the CDM since CDM only accepts 2.5mm TRRS balanced in which only has hot signals, but no ground. The only possible ground pin would be on the USB input for the CDM DAC. I connected the CDM USB to the same USB hub as the PEM13 cradle and voila! No more buzzing. Luckily my "hub" is an iFi Micro iUSB and it has 2 ports. As to why the Teac DAC worked, I now remember that the Teac is configurable to only 2 hot pins (no ground) and that is why it works. The PEM13 cradle uses 2 hot and 1 ground apparently.

    2) Line out is variable only so no fixed. Not a big deal.

    New issue - this could be a major issue for some but much to my surprise AK380 will not function as a DAC once you enable the XLR line out! This is similar to the limitation on the amp. This is a real bummer for me. However, in fixing issue #1 above, I realize I can use the CDM DAC when I want to stream stuff from my MacBook. Since I use Apple Music I don't need anything too fancy so CDM will more than sufficient.

    Last edited: Jun 2, 2017
  4. Samuel777
    I need your advice before I make another mistake.
    I'm looking for a Bluetooth headphone.
    - with noise cancelation and APTX - HD
    Or Without Noise cancelation but APTX-HD
    Something I will use outside and inside.
    But also which can be easily drive by my AK380cu since I will not be able to use my cu amp to drive that headphone via Bluetooth.
    For non noise cancelation I was thinking about the technica audio :
    - Audio Technica HiRes (black)Bluetooth wireless headphones ATH-DSR7BT
    Or at least
    - Audio-Technica ATH-DSR9BT Wireless Over-Ear Headphones with Pure Digital Drive.
    And with noise cancelation I was thinking about :
    - Sony Premium Noise Cancelling, Bluetooth Headphone, Black (MDR1000X
    - Sennheiser PXC 550 Noise-Cancelling Wireless Headphones
    I'm open to your propositions and suggestions.
  5. LouisArmstrong
    Bear in mind that adding a leather case will affect the sound. A tad congested compared with no case.
  6. bflat
    I have the Sony MDR-1000x and would recommend it. The overall sound is fairly neutral and not "V" shaped like many consumer headphones. NC is as good as what I experienced with Bose. Downside is that it is only Apt-x and not HD as the others you list. However, I don't know if there is much difference because I really can't tell the difference between wired and Apt-x. Wired maybe sounds a little more weighty. The AAC support for my iPhone is no slouch either and I've decided that iPhone is good enough for airplanes flights rather than drag my AK380 CU stack around.
  7. Samuel777
    When u use the Sony MDR-1000X with your AK380 cu, how does it sound ? and can you at the same time paire it with your iPhone, so that if you have a call on your phone you're able to reply directly ?
    Can the AK380cu drive that headphone easily ? or shall you put up all volume before you can hear ? which level of volume ? as I can't use the amp, that is important. don't like when I'm obliged to put up all volume before I can hear.
    thanks again for your feedback and advice.
  8. bflat
    The sound is more reference than "fun". Bass is fast and tight, but lacking in the sub bass region. Mids are pretty neutral - not warm, not cold, not forward, not recessed. Highs are pretty airy and forward with a little bit of an edge. Soundstage is small and you definitely feel like you are listening to headphones. If you like darker headphones, then this will sound bright. If you like analytical and detailed sound, you will get it, but it will be a little rough. But in the right context - on a plane watching a video or listening to music while reading a book, it's a great product.

    With the AK380, it has plenty of power to drive wired. I don't recall having the volume above 80. I don't have my AK380 with me at the moment, but I generally switch to the amp module if any headphone I have requires higher than 80 volume. This was due to some increased IMD that a reviewer measured under load past 85.

    As for connecting to both iPhone and AK380, that is a very important question! According to Sony's online help, it is possible. However if you read the official MDR-1000x thread, nobody has been able to make it work and the general consensus is that a firmware update may be required or it will never work. I forgot to mention that, but it's not an issue for me since I use my Apple watch for call notification. I also maybe get 1 phone call a month so not an issue for me. I will say switching from one source to another is not as simple as it can be. The quickest way that I found is to manually disconnect from source 1 by turning off BT, then power down the headphone, turn on source 2, power headphone on, manually select "connect" on source 2. What I do now is simply use my iPhone for BT connection and wired to my iPad Pro.
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2017
  9. Samuel777
    Thanks so much for this qualitative contribution.
    one last question : it is better I ask to know if the AK380 cu can drive the Sony MDR1000X via the cu amp via bluthooeh or should we absolutely use the headphone cable ?
    I was also thinking about the sennheiser PXC 550,
  10. bflat
    For the absolute most out of the 1000x, I would get an upgrade cable. I got one from headphonelounge (Ted Allen). Since it's a standard 3.5 to 3.5 cable, there are a lot of options at reasonable prices. Wired to the AK380 produces the best sound imho, assuming you are playing lossless tracks. Having said that, the opposite extreme of my iPhone playing AAC files wirelessly to the 1000x is >90% equal to wired on my AK. The extra hassle and weight and wires while I'm traveling is not worth that 10% tradeoff for me. If I'm at home or office, yes I'll go to extremes to get that extra 1-2%. Keep in mind that we are talking about a $350 pair of headphones and if you strip out the NC and built in DAC, it's really a $200 headphone at best so I wouldn't obsess so much about how it's used. My JH Laylas on the other hand are extremely temperamental to source and amps.

    I will say that the NC is addicting. Even at a relatively quiet home, I find NC allows me to listen at lower volumes and enjoy a wider dynamic range. I hope that NC becomes more integrated with future DACs so that all headphones can benefit.
  11. Brandy
    Anyone can send some peq settings that they like. The Pro Eq shure sound like a nice start for a customized eq setting but what is the setting than? Had expected already more settings out here.
  12. Samuel777
  13. Cloudtastrophe
    Has anyone had any luck installing newer versions or android or rooting or flashing new roms to the ak380? I would like to be able to run full android instead of a gimped version, Thanks in advance!
  14. Samuel777
    i have received today my ATH DRS7BT it is very nice, and the SQ is more than excellent but unfortunately I found it too big for my head and for outside use.
    so I put it in its box, then request for RMA. Then I will send it back as soon as I got the authorization. at the same time I ordered the Sony MDR 1000. which is adaptable for outside use.
    hope audiotechnica will refund me quickly .

    The Sony MDR 1000 Is very good. it works fine with my AK380 via bluetooth and also with my iPhone.
    I succeed to connect the iPhone and the AK380 Cu to the Sony MDR 1000 at the same time. when listening to my music, when I receive a call on my iPhone, I'm automatically noticed and the music stop then I can reply if I want directly.... this is something I really like. the SQ is also acceptable
  15. tienbasse
    These are good times or people like me who are getting TOTL things one generation behind.
    It's the right time to look for AK380 bargains, I got mine half-price, and it's really worth it (beside the average battery, the experience is amazing).

    They're still a bit expensive in the classified, but they multiply like rabbits, so prices should get more interesting.
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