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Review of: MK100
Hi-end portable music player by:
iriver

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On May 28, 2013
Last modified:June 7, 2013

Summary:

Iriver AK100 is a hi-end music player capable of playing superior quality high definition music of Mastering Quality Sound, i.e. studio-quality sound

Who and Why uses hi-end music player

Astell&Kern iriver AK100 Mastering Quality Sound (MQS) Portable System : Hi-end music player

Astell&Kern AK100 Mastering Quality Sound (MQS) Portable System

So who and why is using premium hi-end music players? The answer is obvious.   Music lovers and professionals are not quite happy with the quality of modern mp3 players and other devices.  For some people the sound quality of the music is not so important. They are happy with ordinary music players with a few gigabytes of flash memory and a few dozens of favourite songs. Others just use their smartphones that are not able to provide superior quality of sound either.

But some other people are taking care about music more seriously and own hundreds of albums of high quality 24-bit DVD-audio music with sampling rate at least 96 kHz. Such quality music requires expensive hi-end headphones and could not be played on ordinary mp3 players or smartphones.  Iriver AK100 is one of the premium hi-end music players that could play DVD-audio quality music.

Iriver AK100  is the first premium hi-end digital music player released by Korean company under brand  of Astell & Kern.

Iriver AK100: What is in the box?

Design and packaging of the player makes impression of expensive and high-quality product. Iriver AK100 comes with no headphones for a reason. Hi-end premium quality headphones are expensive and may significantly increase the price of the player.    The package includes USB to micro USB cable, black fabric carrying pouch and micro SD card with five “studio” quality tracks.

Iriver AK100: Design

Astell&Kern AK100 Mastering Quality Sound (MQS) Portable Sy

Astell&Kern AK100 Mastering Quality Sound (MQS) Portable Sy

The case of iriver AK100 is made from dark aluminium. Durable transparent plastic on the back is not resistible to scratches. Yes, unfortunately it is not a Gorilla Glass and. Device is equipped by 2.4-inch front touch screen with the resolution of 320 by 240 pixels.

Iriver AK100: Technical Details

Cute 122 grams box has built-in 3.5mm headphone output, input for an optical digital cable, micro USB slot as well as two slots for micro SD cards up to 32GB each.  Built-in 32GB of internal storage may keep up to 300 albums in mp3 format or 50-80 albums in various lossless formats.

Iriver AK100: Sound

iriver AK100 equipped by expensive  high quality digital to analog converter by Wolfson that provides superior quality of sound.  There is clear difference in sound when playing let’s say mp3 song on iPhone and iriver AK100 especially If you use high quality headset like Philips Fidelio M1. There are also huge difference in sound quality when playing FLAC file on modern  Sony Xperia Z that is one of the best in terms of the sound of smartphones on the market today.  Definitely you can hear the difference in favour of Astell&Kern device.

Iriver AK100: Main Feature

Main Feature of Astell & Kern iriver AK100 is the support of Mastering Quality Sound, i.e. studio-quality sound. This is not a new audio format. The player is capable of playing digital audio or WAV FLAC containers with high 24-bit resolution and a sampling frequency 192 kHz. Such audio quality  is typical for professional studio recording systems that used by musicians and sound engineers. Such high quality music is available, for example, through HDTracks shop that sells “high-definition” music and AIFF-FLAC 24 bit/96 kHz -formatted music. There are also some 24/192 records but quite a bit.

Iriver AK100: Firmware

Please note that AK100 comes with firmware version 1.20. It does not support  ALAC – Apple Lossless Audio Codec  as well as “compressed” m4a.  The new version of firmware that supports above mentioned formats is available on the website of iriver.

Hi-end music player: Requirements and recommendations

Hi-end music player : iBasso Mini

iBasso Mini Audio DX100 24Bit 192K Digital Audio Player Headphone AMP DAC

Hi-end music player : Colorfly Pocket HiFi

Colorfly Pocket HiFi C4 16G Pro Media Player 24bit 192kHz MP3 AMP Hi-Fi DAC

You may need such device in cases when you are able to distinguish the music encoded with a high sampling rate and bit depth of FLAC from a conventional CD music. Of course appropriate quality of headphones must be used. The list of recommended headphones for hi-end music player includes Denon AH-D7100, AudioTechnica ATH-W3000ANV, BeyerDinamic DT1350, Shure SRH840, and Shure SE425.

Pros and Cons of iriver AK100

Pros:

  • Modern design
  • Excellent sound quality
  • Support for studio quality sound, i.e. 24 bit / 192 kHz

Cons:

  • High Price
  • Plastic-screen and rear cover  is not resistible to scratches
  • Requires high-end, high-quality headphones. Otherwise the purchasing of AK100 does not make much sense.
Iriver AK100 is a hi-end music player capable of playing superior quality high definition music of Mastering Quality Sound, i.e. studio-quality sound