Tag Archives: Astell & Kern

Cowon Plenue 1 - £740

AMP3′s High Resolution Player Buyer’s Guide

If you’re going to listen to your favourite tunes, they may as well sound the best they can and that’s where High Resolution audio comes in. With demand for High Resolution music growing by the day, we’ve put together a list of the best sounding players, designed to give you the best from your favourite artists.

 

Cowon Plenue 1 High Resolution Player

 First up in our list is Cowon’s Flagship player, the Cowon Pleune 1.

The Plenue 1 features a beautiful new UI

Cowon Plenue 1 – £740

Cowon’s greatest player to date, the Plenue 1 is Cowon’s first big step toward the top end of the market. All support for ‘unnecessary extras’ such as video playback has been stripped away, allowing the P1 to focus on producing the best sound it possibly can, making your favourite tracks a joy to listen to.

 

With 128GB of internal memory and the option to expand up to 256GB, support for FLAC, WAV, DXD and DSD up to 192kHz/24-bit resolution and a streamlined UI, Cowon have created one of the best sounding players on the market at the moment.

 

What makes the Cowon Plenue 1 great?

128GB of internal memory with the option to expand

Support for high resolution file types

Intuitive user interface

 

What’s not so great?

Battery playback time of ~ 10hrs

No earphones included with player

 

See the Cowon Plenue 1 here:

Cowon Plenue 1 High Resolution Music Player

 

iBasso DX90 High Performance Digital Audio Player

iBasso DX90 - £295

iBasso DX90 – £295

Identical in almost every way, the DX90 may be easily confused for its little brother the DX50. The same simple UI, 8GB internal memory with support up to 2TB promised, and supporting all the usual audio files the DX90 may not seem so exciting at first glance.

 

The main difference between the two players is the DX90’s Dual ES9018K2M DAC design. Incorporating a single DAC per channel (one left, one right) the DX90 manages to minimise interference between channels, providing you with an excellent sound quality hard to find at this price.

 

What makes the DX90 great?

Same great file support and UI as the DX50

8GB internal memory expandable up to 2TB with future firmware updates

Dual DAC design provides superior sound

 

What’s not so good?

Only 8GB of internal storage, though this is expandable

Screen may be difficult to see in direct sunlight

 

See the iBasso DX90 here:

iBasso DX90 High Performance Digital Audio Player

 

Sony NWZ-A15 High Resolution Walkman

Sony NWZ-A15 £159

Sony NWZ-A15 – £159

The A10 series is the new range produced by industry experts Sony in their new drive towards high resolution music. The A15 has proven very popular already, and it’s no surprise.

 

The A15 is the world’s smallest and lightest Hi-res audio player, making it great for listening on the go and features both Bluetooth and NFC support. The 16GB player also features a Micro SD card slot with support for up to 128GB.

 

What makes the A15 great?

Very portable and easy to use

Expandable memory with 16GB built-in

50 hour battery life

 

What’s not so good?

Proprietary port for charging/syncing

 

See the Sony NWZ-A15 here:

Sony NWZ-A15 High Resolution Walkman

 

Astell & Kern AK240 High Fidelity Sound System

Astell & Kern AK240 - £2199.99

Astell & Kern AK240 – £2199.99

The Astell & Kern AK240 is unquestionably the best player on the market at the moment. Designed and built by a division of iRiver, the AK240 will bring you closer to your favourite artist than you probably thought possible.

 

The Grand-daddy of portable audio players, the AK240 features a sleek UI and a space-age body. Inside, the AK240 has 256GB of memory and supports expansion via Micro SD card up to a massive 384GB. A Dual DAC design, balanced output, DSD support, MQS streaming and USB DAC functionality mean the Astell & Kern AK240 is truly the best sounding piece of kit in the portable audio market at the moment.

 

What makes the AK240 great?

Huge 384GB memory (with 128GB Micro SD card)

Great file support, including high resolution formats

MQS streaming

The best sound quality of any potable audio player on the market

 

What’s not so great?

The odd shape may not suite everyone’s taste

The price

 

See the AK240 here:

Astell & Kern AK240 256GB Portable High Fidelity Sound System

 

FiiO X3 All New 2nd Gen High Resolution Digital Audio Player

FiiO X3 2nd Gen - £159

FiiO X3 2nd Gen – £159

Lastly, but certainly not least is FiiO’s X3 High Resolution player. Despite being at the lower end of the market, the X3 2nd Gen can still hold its own against more expensive players. With support for all the usual file formats (including DSD and ALAC), the X3 2nd Gen offers immersive sound quality that belies its low-end price.

 

The X3 2nd Gen will do double duty as a digital audio player and USB DAC when connected to your computer, satisfying your music needs at home and on the go. With a Micro SD card slot supporting cards up to 128GB you can literally bring your entire music library with you.

 

What makes the FiiO X3 2nd Gen Digital Audio Player great?

Excellent sound quality for the price point

Doubles up as a USB DAC

Support for in-line remote

 

What’s not so great?

No internal memory

Scroll wheel and UI can be fiddly

 

See the FiiO X3 All New 2nd Gen High Resolution Digital Audio Player here:

FiiO X3 All New 2nd Gen High Resolution Digital Audio Player

akjr

New Astell & Kern Jr player set for May launch

 

Astell & Kern, makers of the infamously expensive AK240, are set to launch a brand new mid-range player. Dubbed the AK Jr, this little brother to the rest of the A&K range is looking pretty good.

 

akjr

The 64GB player is garbed in the signature Astell & Kern Aluminium and, featuring a textured volume scroll knob, the AK Jr very much looks the younger brother to the AK 100 ii and AK120 ii players. It should retain some of the aspects of its brothers, such as DSD playback (albeit converted to PCM) and has an integrated Wolfson DAC that enables USB DAC functionality. No wifi for the Jr, but Bluetooth 4.0 and all the usual suspects when it comes to file types and the baby AK is shaping up to be quite a player.

 

“What about the price?” I hear you ask. How does £399 sound? It may look and sound like an Astell & Kern, but the small price tag puts it on a level with the likes of the iBasso DX90, the Sony NWZ-Z1 and the HiFiMan HM-802. Undoubtedly a smart move by Astell & Kern, this new addition to the A&K family is sure to have many an audiophile excited.

The AK Jr is due to be officially launched at High End Munich 14-17 May.

 

Check out AMP3′s range of Astell & Kern products:

Astell & Kern @ AMP3

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Stunning New Desktop Network Audio Player from Astell & Kern

The AK500N - The Ultimate High-Res MQS Network Audio Player

The AK500N – The Ultimate High-Res MQS Network Audio Player – £8,999.00

 

Astell & Kern have done it again.

 

Building on the back of their rather excellent AK240 (and its little brothers the AK100 ii and AK120 ii) the team over at Astell & Kern have produced another brilliant product, this time in the shape of desktop network audio player, the AK500N.

 

Not sure what a network audio player does? Well, in the case of the AK500N, it does it all.

 

Astell & Kern have graced the AK500N with one-click CD ripping to either WAV or FLAC, DLNA network capabilities and PCM to DSD conversion.

AAK3AK5000CCLARGE

 

Playback is driven by the internal battery in order to cut out ‘noise’ from the AC power supply; charging happens outside of playback, or when the battery reaches 4% capacity.

 

The flip-up 7inch touchscreen is a nice touch, allowing you to control your music playback easily and quickly.

 

The AK500N features internal memory to allow super speedy playback, but this can also be complimented by external memory via the dedicated USB port on the back of the device.
In fact, the AK500N has a whole range of inputs and outputs; coaxial, optical, USB types A and B, Ethernet, BNC and both fixed and variable analogue outputs.

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The networking capability is also a great feature, with the ability to connect with phones, tablets, your PC and of course Astell & Kern’s own range of portable players in order to stream and control playback.

 

At just under £9000 the AK500N may be out with many people’s price range, but the hefty price tag from A&K is nothing new. With the abundance of features and unquestionably excellent sound, the AK500N may be the desktop audio player many audiophile’s dream of.
Head over to AMP3 to get more details:

Astell & Kern AK500N – The Ulitmate High-Res MQS Network Audio Player

AK240LARGE

Stunning New Player and Earphones from Astell & Kern

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Astell & Kern AK240 256GB Portable High Fidelity Sound System with MQS (Mastering Quality Sound) and DSD Support

Price: £2,199.99

Link.

 

Astell & Kern have once again managed to move the goal posts with their brand new AK240 high fidelity sound system and gorgeous looking AKR02 earphones. If you’ve ever fantasised about shrinking your beloved stereo so you could take it with you on the move then look no further than the AK240 as it’s near-guaranteed to bring a huge smile to your face.

 

Building strongly on the success of the wonderful AK100 and AK120 series of players the AK240 is armed with a Dual DAC setup to create better separation between the channels and provided a clearer sound quality and features an absolutely staggering 256GB internal memory. There’s also a Micro SD card slot which will accept a 128GB card and with the addition of one of these cards the AK240 can support up to a total memory capacity of 384GB.

 

Not stopping there, Astell & Kern have an arsenal of other sought after features to impress you with. There’s USB DAC functionality for improving the sound from your computer, a 10-Band 0.5dB-step EQ, both balanced and unbalanced 3.5mm outputs and they even throw in a beautiful leather case to protect your new pocket HiFi. Moreover, you can now forget about twiddling your thumbs while watching the progress bar when transferring music to the player as the AK240 features MQS streaming, through the Astell&Kern MQS streaming server software, and makes it ideal for using the player as a home stereo over your network.

 

What is really interesting about the AK240 though is the fact that the player features native DSD Support, a digital audio file format originally developed for SACDs (Super Audio CD). Basically compared to regular audio CDs with 16bit/44.1kHz PCM format, SACD’s recording frequency goes up to 100kHz and the dynamic range goes beyond 120dB while maintaining sound clarity during the transmission. This means that the music you’re listening to is as close to the original studio recording as possible.

 

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Astell & Kern AKR02 Balanced Armature Earphones with BAM (Balanced Air Movement) Technology

Price: £999.99 (£899.99 when purchased with the AK240)

Link.

 

If you own a player which is as jaw-droppingly good as the AK240 then you need some serious earphones to compliment the sheer sound quality which is produced. Fortunately Astell & Kern have you covered here with their new AKR02 Balanced Armature earphones.

 

These earphones provide a host of handy features to ensure that the quality of your music is reproduced in a way which does them justice, such as the removable oxygen-free copper cable and connectors. However, the real magic arrives in the form of coupling the custom Balanced Armature drivers with Balancing Air Movement (BAM) technology. This technology allows airflow to the BA unit and not only maximises the bass tones but overcomes the weakness of low frequency response found in typical BA driver units.

 

Both the Astell & Kern AK240 and the AKR02 Balanced Armature earphones are available from Advanced MP3 Players right now and if you’re a music lover than we’re certain that these wonderful products will leave you in audio bliss.