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Astell & Kern AK100

High-resolution portable music player

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  • Astell & Kern AK100

    Front

  • Astell & Kern AK100

    2.4" color touchscreen display

  • Astell & Kern AK100

    Angled view

  • Astell & Kern AK100

    Audiophile sound you can take anywhere

  • Astell & Kern AK100

    Back

  • Astell & Kern AK100

    Compact design

  • Astell & Kern AK100

    Side view with manual control buttons

  • Astell & Kern AK100

    Smaller than an iPhone (not included)

  • Astell & Kern AK100

    Top view with optical in and line out

  • Astell & Kern AK100

    Touchscreen display

  • Astell & Kern AK100

    Two microSD card slots provide extra memory

 

Our take on the Astell & Kern AK100

by David Brown

Astell & Kern AK100 high-resolution portable music player

The AK100 features a color touchscreen display as well as push-button controls and an analog volume knob.

High-resolution audio to go

Most portable music players do a fine job of letting you take your music anywhere. But they can't replicate the sound quality of a high-performance home system. At least, they couldn't until now. That's where the Astell & Kern AK100 comes in. This highly compact and beautifully designed player represents a new benchmark for portable audio, with true audiophile performance you can fit in your pocket. Pair it with a great set of headphones and you'll want to revisit your entire music collection. Most impressively, the AK100 plays high-resolution music files, delivering them with all their native detail and depth for high fidelity playback beyond the capability of CDs. You can even use it as a stand-alone digital-to-analog converter (DAC) for high-resolution sound from files stored on a computer thanks to this player's USB and optical digital inputs.

Putting sound quality first

Excellent sound quality was the driving force behind the AK100's design. It employs a high-quality Wolfson digital-to-analog converter (DAC) capable of decoding sampling rates up to 24-bit/192kHz. That means you can play high-resolution downloads from sites like HD Tracks on this player without any additional equipment or file conversion. If you haven't heard how good high-resolution music can sound, the AK100 will open your eyes and ears. Even with standard lossless files or compressed formats like MP3, the AK100 can help your music sound its best. Thanks to its high signal-to-noise ratio and vanishingly low distortion, you'll hear more of your music's subtle details. And the internal audio circuitry will feed your headphones more power than most portable music players, so they can really shine.

Praise for the Astell & Kern AK100 from Sound & Vision

"In terms of sound quality, the AK100 is without peer among portables. Load a great lossless, high-rez recording and jack in a great pair of cans, and the AK100 will instantly remind you why serious headphone listening is so compelling."

— From Daniel Kumin's review in Sound & Vision Magazine, June/July/August 2013


Astell & Kern AK100 high-resolution portable music player

With the ability to play high-resolution files up to 24-bit/192kHz, the AK100 is a true audiophile music player you can take anywhere.

Touchscreen and push-button controls

This unique player's clever design combines an easy-to-use touchscreen interface with old-school manual controls. The 2.4-inch color touchscreen is a cinch to navigate and displays artist and title info as well as album artwork. Play, pause, and skip tracks using the touchscreen or the buttons on the side of the player. The analog volume knob is a cool touch, providing fine, tactile level adjustments. So without removing the AK100 from your pocket, you can still control its most important functions.

Drag-and-drop simplicity with expandable memory

Adding music to the AK100 is as easy as dragging and dropping files into a folder on your computer. Just connect the player to your computer with the included USB cable, and you can copy your selections to the AK100 while its built-in battery charges. The 32GB of internal memory can be expanded thanks to two microSD card slots on the bottom of the player's brushed aluminum casing. So you can load the AK100 up with as much as 96GB of music. Load more tunes on extra cards and bring them along for easy swapping, so you can take your entire digital collection with you. Audiophile-grade sound has never been so portable.

From our Astell & Kern AK100 portable music player review:

For those of us who demand the best possible sound from the smallest possible device, the Astell & Kern AK100 is positively ground-breaking.

— David Brown, Crutchfield A/V Writer

Need headphones? Looking for great-sounding headphones for this player? Check out our selection.

See more info on this item

Highlights:

  • digital music player — plays MP3, FLAC, WAV, ALAC, Ogg Vorbis, AAC, AIFF, APE, WMV (may require firmware update for some file formats)
    • plays Direct Stream Digital (DSD) files (.dff and .dsf formats up to 2.8MHz resolution; requires firmware 2.30)
  • Wolfson WM8740 24-bit/192kHz DAC for bit-perfect playback of high-resolution audio files
  • USB input allows for use as an external digital-to-analog converter (DAC) with a computer (requires firmware version 2.10 or later)
  • 32GB internal flash memory
  • 2 microSD card slots for cards up to 32GB (up to 96GB total memory)
  • 2.4" color touchscreen
  • analog volume knob provides fine level adjustments (150 levels)
  • 3 side-panel control buttons (Play/Pause, Next/FF, Previous/Rewind)
  • mini optical input for use as an external DAC
  • stereo minijack line level/optical output for connection to a powered speaker, receiver, or external DAC
  • gapless playback (requires firmware version 2.01 or later)
  • Bluetooth 3.0-compatible (A2DP)
  • built-in 5-band EQ with touchscreen interface
  • built-in rechargeable battery provides up to 15 hours of playback (12 hours with 24-bit/96kHz files)
  • high-speed USB interface (cable included) for drag-and-drop file transfer and battery charging
  • brushed aluminum casing
  • includes carry pouch
  • ouput impedance: 20 ohms
  • total harmonic distortion: 0.0009% (1kHz)
  • signal-to-noise ratio: 110 dB
  • 2-5/16"W x 3-1/8"H x 9/16"D
  • weight: 4.3 oz.
  • warranty: 1 year
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

Hands-on research from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Product Research
What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • AK100 digital music player
  • 40" USB cable (Type A USB on one end and Micro USB on other end)
  • Cloth pouch
  • microSD card with sample music
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty sheet
  • Sample music track list
  • Serial number card

Our Product Research Team

At Crutchfield, you'll get detailed, accurate information that's hard to find elsewhere. That's because we have our own in-house Product Research team — they open the box, verify contents, check the owner's manual, and record dimensions, features and specs. We stay on top of new products and technologies to help people make informed choices.

Features

Overview: The Astell & Kern AK100 from iRiver is a portable high-fidelity audio system, capable of playing Mastering Quality Sound (MQS)--high resolution digital audio from music mastering studios. It has a sleek, brushed aluminum body with a 2.4" touch screen display and an analog rotary volume control on the side. The AK100 has a built-in 32 GB flash memory with dual microSD slots for adding even more memory. The unit is powered by a built-in rechargeable battery, and charges via a Micro USB cable. It comes with a cloth pouch to protect it from scratches.

Digital-to-Analog Converter: The AK100 is equipped with the Wolfson WM8740 24-bit, 192kHz DAC, the same as found in some high-end audio equipment (AV receivers). This DAC delivers outstanding performance with a 110dB signal-to-noise ratio, a super-clean 0.0009% THD+N rate, a -120dB Crosstalk specification for superb left-right separation, and a 10Hz-20kHz Frequency Response at +0.02dB to -0.02dB.

External DAC: With Optical In and Optical Out ports, the AK100 can be used as an external optical DAC. You can connect the unit to an optical out port on your computer or CD player to convert your digital music files for listening with headphones, a powered speaker, or through the Auxiliary input of your car stereo.

High Fidelity: The AK100 is capable of playing high resolution digital music up to 24-bit, 192kHz, the same as used in the music mastering process. This Mastering Quality Sound (MQS) includes all of the high resolution formats, including WAV, AIFF, FLAC, and ALAC. These lossless files provide approximately 6-1/2 times more detail than a CD (16-bit, 44kHz), and can be played at sample rates of 8kHz-192kHz and 8/16/24-bits per sample. In addition, the unit can play MP3, AAC, WMA, OGG, and APE compressed audio files.

Built-in and Optional Memory: The Astell & Kern AK100 is equipped with 32 GB of internal memory and dual microSD card slots, that support up to 32 GB each. That gives you a total of 96 GB of storage space that can be used for saving music files. The microSD slots have a sliding cover to help keep dust out. A microSD card with sample music is included.

User Interface: The AK100 features a high-quality user interface to make it easy to find and select your music files, change the volume, and adjust the sound:

  • 2.4" LCD Touchscreen: The full-color LCD touchscreen has a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels. The screen displays the title and artist of the currently playing song, along with elapsed and remaining time, with the album art in the background. On the touchscreen, you can touch the Play/Pause, Previous/Rewind, or Next/Fast Forward icons to control playback. You can make adjustments to the EQ, set the repeat and random modes, and add the song to a playlist, all using the touchscreen interface.
  • Rotary Volume Knob: The AK100 has a side-mounted analog-style rotary volume knob. The volume control range is 00.0 to 75.0 with detents at every 0.5. As you adjust the volume, the volume range is shown numerically on the display.
  • Hardware Control Buttons: There are four physical buttons on the unit: a top-mounted power button, along with side-mounted Play/Pause, Previous/Rewind, and Next/Fast Forward buttons.

Drawing Equalizer: The AK100 has a 5-band Equalizer that lets you set the EQ levels by "drawing" the curve on the touchscreen. You can set the levels of each band from -10dB to +10dB at 62Hz, 250Hz, 1kHz, 4kHz, and 16kHz. Each band can be set one at a time by touching the desired level on the screen, or set them all at once by a single swipe of the finger across the screen in the shape you desire.

Micro USB: The AK100 has a Micro USB port on the bottom of the unit for connecting the unit to your computer for downloading music files and for charging the battery. The AK100 is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8, as well as Mac OS X 10.6.5 and up.

iRiver Plus4: iRiver Plus4 is an integrated software built into memory of the AK100 that can be loaded onto your computer when you first connect your device. With iRiver Plus4, you can rip CDs to your computer and transfer the music files to the device. You can manage music files using a drag-and-drop method on the software interface.

Power Requirements: The AK100 is equipped with a 2000 mAh 3.7V Lithium-Polymer battery. The battery charges via USB in about 5 hours. A fully charged battery can provide up to 16 hours of continuous playback time (Standard--Music: FLAC, 16-bit, 44kHz, Volume at 37, EQ off, and LCD off).

 

Product reviews from the Crutchfield Labs (what are the Labs?)

Astell & Kern AK100 music player

Astell & Kern AK100 music player

by David Brown
 
Astell & Kern AK100 music player

Music players like the iPod® are more about portability than quality sound. But a new product aims to elevate the portable listening experience far beyond good enough.

 
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Astell & Kern AK100 Reviews

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3 out of 5

Small hand held piece of dynamite.

Written By gr, NYC on Thursday, July 17, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
Again, I am new to this niche, but I love listening to music-on the go. I needed a player to power & drive my SennHD800's. While the AK100 is the perfect power supply and compliments a quality headphone, the reason this gets 3 stars is simple: 4 & 5 stars are reserved for the 2 higher models (120 & 240 respectively) for such basic and fundamental reasons. I'll explain and complain at once- Despite it being a gorgeous piece of hardware-quality in design, solid durable feel-enticing interface touch screen, I must reserve 4 stars for the AK120 and 5 stars for the AK240 based on such simple principles: This is a portable unit yet the AK100 has a volume knob protruding from the unit which will inevitably get snagged on any pocket & ultimately break off. Now, the AK 120, I know has more power and memory but; it has a volume knob guard. Ugh, simple, inexpensive feature, how dare they not install it on the AK100, afterall the two units are not close in price. Now, the AK240 is designed with the volume knob recessed in the unit. I'm hurt that I am spending good money on the AK100 which is a wonderful unit and they skimped on the streamline of the unit for pennies worth of a fix. Ok, but, luxury problem, it's a good feeling piece of hardware and has ample power. and, since I have it and my SennHD800's, I have been in a state known as bliss.
Pros:
easy to navigate, fun to use, simple click & drag songs in, beautifully layered subtle images on the screen, tastefully done, plenty of power, compact, feels good to hold it; same sensation as holding a solid weighty quality pen or watch.
Cons:
You cannot create a playlist according to your preferred lineup of songs -it will get alphabetized automatically. This was truly shocking. I ought to look into see if the 120 or 240 have that option. But again, for double and triple the price just to have a volume knob thats protected and (maybe) control over the order of your songs i cannot justify, which frustrates me. But its such a great unit besides that.
Was this review helpful?    Yes | No
 
3 out of 5

Software is terrible

Written By Dave m, Pinckney, MI on Sunday, January 12, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
The sound from this is exceptional. It sounds absolutely great on High Definition recordings. The biggest flaw with the product is the software from Iriver. It looks like it was written for Windows 3.1. It is confusing on how to make playlists. When you do get a playlist constructed, the player suffers random "cannot find file" errors.
Pros:
great sound
Cons:
Software is crude
6 out of 8 people found this helpful
Was this review helpful?    Yes | No
 

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For a more in-depth review and enhanced detailed information on the Astell & Kern AK100, please visit the Crutchfield website product page (/ISEO-rccbcspd/p_838AK100/Astell-Kern-AK100.html ).

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Compare with other Astell & Kern models

  • Astell & Kern AK120
  • Get better sound and more memory.
  • 5 out of 5: In Stock
  • The Astell & Kern AK120 offers:
    • dual Wolfson 24-bit/192kHz DACs for a wide-open soundstage and added detail and dynamics
    • 64GB of built-in memory with expansion up to 192GB using microSD cards
    • plays Direct Stream Digital (DSD) files
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  • Astell & Kern AK100
  • High resolution portable music player
  • 3 out of 5: In Stock
    • The Astell & Kern AK100 offers:
      • digital music player and DAC; plays MP3, FLAC, WAV, ALAC, Ogg Vorbis, AAC, AIFF, APE, and WMV digital music files
      • Wolfson WM8740 24-bit/192kHz DAC for bit-perfect playback of high-resolution audio files
      • expandable memory up to 96GB (32GB internal memory and 2 microSD card slots)
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    $699.99
  • Astell & Kern AK120 Titan
  • Get more memory and a scratch-resistant finish
  • 5 out of 5: In Stock
  • The Astell & Kern AK120 Titan offers:
    • 128GB internal flash memory, expandable to 256GB with optional memory cards
    • scratch-resistant anodized coating
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    $1,499.99
  • Astell & Kern AK120
  • portable music player
  • 5 out of 5: In Stock
    • The Astell & Kern AK120 offers:
      • digital music player and USB digital-to-analog converter (DAC)
      • dual Wolfson WM8740 24-bit/192kHz DACs for bit-perfect playback of high-resolution audio files
      • expandable memory up to 192GB (64GB internal memory and 2 microSD card slots)
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    $1,299.99
  • Astell & Kern AK240
  • Get better sound, more memory, native DSD decoding, and Wi-Fi®
  • 4.5 out of 5: Low Stock
  • The Astell & Kern AK240 offers:
    • dual Cirrus Logic CS4398 digital-to-analog converters for bit-perfect playback of high-resolution audio files
    • native DSD playback for DSD64 (2.8MHz) and DSD128 (5.6MHz) files
    • 256GB internal flash memory with microSD card slot for expansion
    • built-in Wi-Fi for streaming and downloading music from a networked computer
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    $2,499.99
  • Astell & Kern AK120 Titan
  • High resolution portable music player
  • 5 out of 5: In Stock
    • The Astell & Kern AK120 Titan offers:
      • limited edition digital music player with scratch-resistant anodized coating
      • dual Wolfson WM8740 24-bit/192kHz DACs for bit-perfect playback of high-resolution audio files
      • expandable memory up to 256GB (128GB internal memory and 2 microSD card slots)
  • Add To Cart
    $1,499.99
  • Astell & Kern AK240
  • 4.5 out of 5: Low Stock
    • The Astell & Kern AK240 offers:
      • digital music player and USB digital-to-analog converter (DAC) with native playback of DSD, FLAC, and other high-resolution music files
      • built-in Wi-Fi for streaming and downloading music from a networked computer
      • expandable memory up to 384GB (256GB internal memory and 1 microSD card slot)
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    $2,499.99
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