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Astell & Kern Junior (AK Jr.) Impressions Thread

Discussion in 'Portable Source Gear' started by doublea71, Apr 24, 2015.
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  1. Love Music

    Just wondering which has better sound quality the dx90 or ak Jr?
  2. goody
    if anyone wants to sell their ak jnr pm me
  3. Sc00p
    I recently removed the front screen protector. Now im finding a noticeable difference, with the sensitivity being better now. So with this surprise I did a little more testing and found that the screen is very responsive without the protector and a bone dry finger.
    In my everyday life, my hands are always a little moist. On the rare times they aren't, then I find the screen is how I expected the day I bought (post screen protector).
  4. Hellkitchen
    Tomorrow I will go to my local shop and should find my brand new JR which is replacing the old one which had some serious issues with Ghost touch. The first time I've sent it to assistance they did something (don't know what but I think just software stuffs) but didn't replaced it.
    After repair it had the same problem so I asked for replacement.

    Now I'm really undecided if I should use it or sell it.
  5. Hellkitchen
    I got it back. Now It's working fine with no problems.

    I tried the DAC function with my macbook and it didn't worked, just like on Windows....
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2017
  6. Hellkitchen
    Anyway, since I had my JR back I'm trying it and it sounds really great. The UI it's a bit laggy but the software is not that bad.
    I'm a bit undecided between sold it or not.
  7. beerus
    Hi My A&K Jr do not see Sony Smart B-Trainer Bluetooth . Help
  8. Necron99
    Welcome to the Bluetooth hell that is the A&K Stepchild...
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2018
    stoobot likes this.
  9. the diode
    What are some other players that have a similar sound to the Jr?
  10. dinesh18892
    Just ordered this bad boy and will be pairing it with InEar Stagediver 2s and Audiofly Af140. Have Flare r2a too. I'll post impressions soon.
  11. warubozu
    Can anyone tell me if the firmware in the AK Jr is still laggy? Want to get one but laggy software has got me looking elsewhere.
  12. SkumBucket
    I personally never found the software particularly laggy, and I think the amount of lag you experience is heavily dependent on how you use the player. It seemed to me that you would experience more lag if you searched for your music through the indexed library (browsing by album, artist, etc.). I always browsed the contents of my SD card directly, and while it wasn't as snappy as the Android-based UI on my DP-X1, it wasn't bad at all. I like browsing directly from the SD card anyway, as it lets me set up my old folder structure (Genre-Artist-Album, with compilations and my most recently added music also getting their own top-level folder).
    warubozu likes this.
  13. warubozu
    Thanks, guess I'll be looking into getting one, I also noticed firmware upgrades on AK's site for the Jr at help stabilize the firmware.
  14. Mr Makarov
    Hi every one.I just found the file where I put my observations (2017) about JR some months ago. So there it goes:

    So after spending some time with AK Jr (like 4-8 hrs a day for 5+ months) I think I´m, finally able to give my opinion. The night when I first posted on this thread I was just about to share my extended first impressions but then I realized that I´ve just tried only 2 headphones with Ak Jr, then I tried others (IEMs) and it was clear that I was a little confused.

    After loading the Jr with tracks I use for testing, the first thing I did was to try HifiMan HE-400 and HE-400i. And what a surprise – it was not just loud enough but more than loud enough. My beloved Walkman F can barely drive HE400i and is not enough for the original HE-400.

    Below I´ll provide my opinion after testing JR with different HPs and IEMs that were available to me. Comparisons include Walkman F series and Audioquest Dragonfly Black (DBF) as audio sources.

    Sony XBA-4.

    AK Jr (compared to Walkman F806). There is some hollowness to the sound, as if the Jr was not driving them properly. There is less details in the midrange, sound is less intimate, female vocals are not as crisp and feel more recessed and lose that little extra touch of realism that can be heard with Walkman. Sub bass is stronger and better extended on the Jr. Bass is about the same but just a tad punchier and more precise/focused on the F806 whereas Jr have some more authority overall in the bass department. Highs are definitely well extended and contribute to a very good soundstage, but they lack refinement and are softened and even sound as “blurry” compared to less extended but more refined and crisper highs of the Walkman. Overall presentation is where it gets tricky. It may seem that Jr loses almost in every category, but that is not exactly the case. Walkman just sounds “smaller”, no way around it. Well defined, crisp, clear, but in a limited “sound space”, it lacks extension on both sides and after switching between F806 and Jr, the Walkman sounds thinner. Instrument separation is undeniably better on Jr. Low quality tracks sound better on Walkman, especially ones with female vocals. There is again that feeling, that with Jr it seems like I am listening to decent speakers rather than to headphones. The experience is less intimate/personal and more “surround”.

    Dunu Titan 1.

    Titan 1 sounds with more weight to the sound on the Jr than on F806. Again, the Jr´s sound signature is there. Soft highs, less detailed/less realistic male and female vocals. Overall, I prefer the JR´s sound this time just because it sounds more “big” to me and works better for the Titan 1 which can be somewhat bright/dry. Titan 1 has a pretty decent soundstage (width) which works pretty good with JR. The final result is that on JR they sound “bigger” and “fuller” and less detailed while on F806 the sound is more focused on midrange and clarity and the rest of it is not as present as on JR (if it makes any sense).

    Shure SE846 stock.

    What I like a lot about se846 is that I can tweak the sound via the three included filters and ear tips. Filters alter the sound slightly which can be noticed easily. Tips can alter the sound even more than filters. Comparisons were made using stock tips (olives) and Sennheiser IE800´s tips (not as easy to fit).

    One thing straight away: the combination of JR+SE846 sounds undeniably better than JR+HifiMan HE400i. Synergy is pretty good! Ok the soundstage goes to HE400i. But only that. And only in “width” department. SE846 sounds very good with AK JR. But, they sound more clear/transparent with F806, more refined, more intimate, and more personal. But “smaller”, less full, it seems like someone deliberately cut one part from both ends and left it just like that, a little crippled. The problem that I am now aware of is that – I tend to crank up the volume trying to bring up the details that I hear on F806 and that are just not there on the JR. Higher volume never worked. Bigger soundstage and warmth is just what SE846 needs (in my opinion) and JR delivers. But there is a veil. Vocals are the strong point of SE846 and on the Walkman they sound so real, close, intimate, and delicious. On the JR vocals sound very very good but they are there for you to “watch”, not to “feel”. JR shows to you a very good and enjoyable overall picture. F806 makes you feel what you hear, but it seems that you can´t “see” the whole”sound picture”. But what you “see” you can feel it, it is intimate and can make you close your eyes and just enjoy it (especially vocals). The “whole picture” is better on the JR. But it lacks “finesse”/details/texture. It (JR) sounds “bigger”, more powerful and with more authority. If your playlist is full of vocal tracks, then JR is not nearly as enjoyable as F806. Anyways, SE846 are a good match for the AK JR. I recommend it highly. If you do not care about vocals then JR would be my recommendation.

    Shure SE846 with IE800 ear tips.

    Changing to IE800 ear tips. Sweet! Everything is just better! Love it! SE846 sound even better now with both JR and F806. Same tendency persists. Mids and especially female vocals sound better/livelier/real on F806 and washed-out on the AK. On the other hand, JR sound livelier and fuller (than with olive tips), just not as clear as F806.

    Note: for slow music with a lot of vocals – F806 is better. For metal/rock I found the JR to be my preference even considering the lack of details (it is just more enjoyable to listen to, not as closed in as F806). Imaging, clarity, highs and separation is better with IE800´s tips. Soundstage is noticeably wider on the JR.

    Sennheiser IE800

    Huge soundstage. With both F806 and JR. Huge! Details! This is not that good for the JR. IE800 are very capable IEMS. They reveal the weaknesses of both DAPs. Fine details, refinement, and clear vocals – that is F806 but all of it is focused in the mids, the rest is not as forward. On the JR everything is forward except mids, vocals are a little bit recessed, everything is somewhat slightly “washed-out”, treble is forward but unrefined, and on the thick side. Overall, IE800 sounds awesome on both DAPs. Quick swapping to XBA-4 and…poor sony´s sound so cheap/false/unnatural/veiled. Both DAPs sound awesome!. EDM and especially vocal trance sound very good on both. Differences are noted if someone starts singing. IE800´s have slightly recessed mids (but surprisingly clean and clear) and JR also have slightly recessed mids. Not a good combination. Clarity is there but singer is just noticeably farther away. With IE800 is a hard one. The unusually big soundstage gets even bigger on the JR. And I personally appreciate that a lot. However, it is hard to live without the extra details that F806 offers. And it is hard to live with smaller soundstage (F806). Both are critical for me but I have discovered that in the end I prefer more clarity and details and emotional midrange than just bigger soundstage where the mids are just present (JR).

    Xiaomi Piston 3.

    Bass is pretty good and overall presentation is smooth. Soundstage is again, bigger on JR. Overall JR drives Piston 3 better, sound is more balanced and more “even”. Not as mid-focused as on the F806. Less detail in the midrange on the JR, but its fuller which is good. Piston 3 sound less intimate on the JR but “bigger” which can easily win over the more organic midrange of the F806. Because with Piston 3 is what you will hear the most (and muddy bass). Xiaomi Piston 3 is not a bad IEM (a very good one for the price) but given the rest of competitors, it is the one that sounds worse (congested, muddy, unnatural).

    Hifiman HE-400 (original, with Venus Audio cable).

    This sounds good. Very good. I wasn’t expecting that. Walkman F806 sound bad in comparison. Congested, low volume. Just no comparison here. F806 can´t compete. Not enough “juice”. Details? With HE400 there is just not enough power to appreciate them. F806 sounds thin and small. Soundstage is noticeably bigger on AK JR. Highs are softer (good!). However, I had to crank the volume to 70/75 on the JR. Sony F806 can’t produce enough volume to appreciate F806´s strengths. JR wins this one easily. Enjoyment factor goes to JR.

    The first time I connected HE400 to JR I was expecting a very bad/harsh sound and, instead, was welcomed by warm and authoritative sound. Good for HE400. Much, much, better than HE-400i and Senns HD700

    HifiMan HE-400i

    Jr is more than capable of driving HE400i´s. Walkman can drive them too. And does a good job. Volume maxed out it is like Jr at 64/75 volume. Walkman is somewhat cold, and HE400i are somewhat cold too. So, the resulting sound is very detailed but without enough weight to it to be engaging. Just not enough extension (on low end mainly) to sound “full”. Soundstage on the Jr is way wider. HE400i presents a quite narrow soundstage (for open-backed headphone) which is not a good news for Walkman with its smaller soundstage, and even worse news for someone who prioritizes soundstage above everything else. Again, Jr has less details (less defined treble) but it is much more engaging and fun (and warm) overall. To put it from another perspective – Jr is enjoyable and Walkman is just “technically interesting”. However, Walkman presents vocals in such an intimate and personal way that Jr just can´t. Midrange is just not as clear/detailed on the Jr. If you care about vocals the most, then Jr is not the one to recommend. And HE400i are very good with vocals. Not so good in soundstage department.

    Denon AH-D600

    A much underrated headphone. It must be extinct and forgotten as for now. But I just can´t let it go. Almost sold it two times but decided to keep it at the last moment. And it sounds surprisingly good with AK Jr. Very good. One thing that caught me off-guard was how much improvement in soundstage and separation I heard. They sound fuller and very inviting. Bass is undeniably much better than that of HE400i´s (more extended, more sub bass, more “body”, and very clear). Mids are ok, not as clear/organic as those of HE400i´s but very enjoyable. Overall presentation is a strange thing. It reminds me of HE400i but with a bass department done tastefully/right but with overall less realism. Soundstage is almost the same that HE400i´s (to me). They sounds much more enjoyable with AK Jr whereas on Walkman they sound cheap and small! Jr wins out easily on this one.

    Sennheiser HD558

    A pretty solid headphone. Suited better for the AK Jr than for the Walkman. Smaller soundstage when using Walkman (but slightly more detailed). HD558 are not very good at detail retrieval so the differences were minuscule. Compared to HE400 and HE400i they sound unnatural/muddy and somewhat wrong and thin. Compared to SE846 (with IE800´s ear tips) they sound off.

    Now the negative/bad things about JR

    It sounds not nearly as detailed as Dragonfly Black (yes, I´m not even talking about DFR). It sounds fuller (JR) in the low end but that´s all. It’s even more washed out compared to DFB than when compared to Walkman. There is just much more clarity, separation is way better, treble is clean (on DFB). DFB pairs very well with IEMs like IE800 and SE846. JR just sounds veiled in comparison. DFB is cheap. You can use it with your smartphone so it can be more practical than carrying JR and a phone, and sounds better.

    I will not talk about UI because it just works fine for me, sure it lags sometimes but I have no problems with that.

    DAC functionality is limited to USB2. Have both ports on a laptop and works only with USB2. In terms of SQ, it’s much better than FiiO X5 (in DAC mode). But, there is a problem that I have noticed: sound comes with a noticeable delay! It’s ok if you´re only listening to music, but if you´re planning to watch some videos or movies it won’t work. At first I was convinced that the video/movie was the problem. Switching to DFB or to laptop´s headphone jack proved the opposite. For movie watching, videogames and related tasks I think the lag is unacceptable.

    But the worst thing of all is the battery-related issues. It lasts just near 6 hours of continuous play. But. It just dies too quickly when on stand-by. You have to switch it off if you want to us it a little bit longer. It´s battery dies even when switched off. That is a really bad thing. I fully charged it on Monday but on Wednesday it will only turn on to show me that battery is dead and turns off immediately. This is disappointing and infuriating.


    · Sound quality is very good and in my personal opinion, on another level compared to FiiO X5 1st and 2nd gen as DAP and DAC.

    · Battery life is only barely acceptable (only because it sounds good).

    · Highs are thick, washed out and unrefined.

    · Clarity is clearly not the strength of JR (compared to Walkman F)

    · Walkman F series (an old Walkman) sounds noticeably clearer. JR sounds “washed out”.

    · Bass and mids are very good.

    · EQ is acceptable but does not make any noticeable improvement to SQ.

    · DAC functionality is good in SQ department, but only compatible with USB 2.0, and it has some unacceptable lag for applications that require precise timing in audio reproduction (movies and videogames).

    · Works really well with Shure SE846 and HifiMan HE-400 and HE-400i. Not so good with Senns IE 800

    · If you are interested in a wide soundstage, JR is more than acceptable in that department.

    I prefer SE846 with JR compared to IE800.
  15. DaejeonCitizen
    If I can pick this up for $180 brand new, is that a good buy when compared with a Sony A45 for example?
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