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Astell & Kern AK120 Titan

Limited Edition high-resolution portable music player

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  • Astell & Kern AK120 Titan

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Our take on the Astell & Kern AK120 Titan

by David Brown

Astell & Kern AK120 high resolution portable music player

The AK120 Titan features 128GB of on-board memory — expandable to 256GB with memory cards — and a scratch-resistant finish on top of the original AK120's exquisite sound quality.

The best just got a little better

The Astell & Kern AK120 has earned rave reviews for its incredible sound quality and gorgeous design. Now, the limited edition AK120 Titan improves on the original design with a scratch-resistant anodized coating over the brushed aluminum case for an even higher level of elegance. Plus, the Titan doubles the original AK120's memory from 64GB to a whopping 128GB of storage. With room for two 64GB memory cards, this player's maximum capacity expands to 256GB — that's plenty of room for a sizable collection of high-res files.

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We've yet to hear a portable music player with sound quality as good as the original AK120. With two Wolfson DACs (digital-to-analog converters), USB DAC capability, and gapless playback, this high-resolution player is truly in a class by itself. If you think your headphones sound good out of your iPhone®, you ain't heard nothin' yet.

Dual DACs open up your music to new possibilities

What's the secret to the AK120's audiophile-quality sound? It's the high-performance Wolfson DACs, the same ones found in many high-end digital source components. The AK120 uses dual Wolfson DACs — one for the left channel and one for the right. This results in outstanding detail and dynamic range, as well as a wide-open soundstage. Plus, this player can handle high-resolution music files with its sophisticated 24-bit/192kHz decoding. So if you've downloaded high-resolution FLAC, Apple Lossless, or AIFF files from sites like HDtracks, the AK120 lets you play them in their native resolution without being tethered to a computer. Pull out your finest pair of headphones — the AK120 will make them really shine by feeding them more power than most portable players.

It's also a USB DAC

The AK120 is actually two powerful devices in one. Thanks to a USB input, the AK120 can also be used as a stand-alone DAC. Connect it to your computer and your receiver or amplifier to listen to digital music files through your home speakers with more clarity and dynamics than your computer's soundcard can deliver. Or use the miniplug optical input to connect it to a component with a digital optical output, like a CD player or Apple TV. That's more versatility than you'd ever expect from a portable music player.


"The AK120 gets an A+."

"...the more you listen to it, the more addicted you become to its subtle benefits. If you can afford the tariff, the AK120 will reward your investment."

— From Alan Taffel's review of the AK120 in The Absolute Sound, October 2, 2013
Read the full review


Improved touchscreen interface

Navigating the AK120's menu system is a snap thanks to the 2.4-inch full-color touchscreen. Astell & Kern improved on the AK100's already impressive user interface, making it more responsive and intuitive. But the touchscreen isn't the only way to control this player. An analog volume wheel offers 150-step volume control and is protected by a clever contoured guard. Manual controls on the other side of the player let you play, pause, and skip tracks without having to look at the display or remove the player from your pocket.

Expandable memory to 256GB

You might be saying to yourself, “This all sounds great, but I bet it can't hold a lot of music files.” Oh yeah? How does 256GB sound? With 128GB of built-in memory and two slots for optional 64GB microSD cards, you can carry around a huge music collection in your pocket. All of it will sound lively and bold — even those compressed MP3 files. Loading up the AK120 is as easy as dragging and dropping files into a folder on your computer. With that much memory, your music collection is more portable. And you'll look good carrying it in the included leather case, custom-designed for the AK120's form and functions.


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

Highlights:

  • digital music player — plays MP3, FLAC, WAV, ALAC, Ogg Vorbis, AAC, AIFF, APE, WMV
    • plays Direct Stream Digital (DSD) files (.dff and .dsf formats up to 2.8MHz resolution; requires firmware 1.30 or higher)
  • dual Wolfson WM8740 24-bit/192kHz DACs for bit-perfect playback of high-resolution audio files
  • scratch-resistant anodized coating
  • 128GB internal flash memory
  • 2 microSD card slots for cards up to 64GB (up to 256GB 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)
  • USB and miniplug optical digital inputs for use as an external DAC
  • supports gapless playback
  • stereo minijack line level/optical output for connection to a powered speaker, receiver, or external DAC
  • Bluetooth 3.0-compatible (A2DP)
  • built-in 5-band EQ with touchscreen interface
  • built-in rechargeable battery provides up to 14 hours of playback
  • high-speed USB interface (cable included) for drag-and-drop file transfer and battery charging
  • volume knob guard
  • includes handmade leather case
  • output impedance: 3 ohms
  • total harmonic distortion: 0.0008% (1kHz)
  • signal-to-noise ratio: 113 dB
  • 2-9/16"W x 3-1/8"H x 5/8"D
  • weight: 5.0 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

  • AK120TN digital music player
  • 40" USB cable (Type A USB on one end and Micro USB on other end)
  • Leather case
  • Screen protectors
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty sheet
  • 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 AK120TN 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 AK120TN has built-in 128 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 leather case to protect it from scratches.

Dual Digital-to-Analog Converters: The AK120TN is equipped with two Wolfson WM8740 24-bit, 192kHz DACs, the same as found in some high-end audio equipment (AV receivers). Each DAC delivers outstanding performance with a 113dB signal-to-noise ratio, a super-clean 0.0008% THD+N rate, a -128dB Crosstalk specification for superb left-right separation, and a 10Hz-70kHz Frequency Response at +0.02dB to -0.02dB. One DAC is used for the left channel, and one for the right channel.

External DAC: With Optical In and Optical Out ports, the AK120TN 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 or home stereo. You can also use the AK120TN as an external USB DAC, connecting the unit via USB from your computer and listen to your stored digital music with headphones, powered speaker, or home stereo.

High Fidelity: The AK120TN 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 AK120TN is equipped with 128 GB of internal memory and dual microSD card slots, that support up to 64 GB each. That gives you a total of 256 GB of storage space that can be used for saving music files. The microSD slots have a sliding cover to help keep dust out.

User Interface: The AK120TN 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 AK120TN 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 AK120TN 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 AK120TN 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 AK120TN 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 AK120TN 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 AK120TN is equipped with a 2350 mAh 3.7V Lithium-Polymer battery. The battery charges via USB in about 6.5 hours. A fully charged battery can provide up to 14 hours of continuous playback time (Standard--Music: FLAC, 16-bit, 44kHz, Volume at 37, EQ off, and LCD off).

 
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Astell & Kern AK120 Titan Reviews

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5 out of 5

Astell & Kern AK120 Titan

Written By TAP, MD on Friday, June 06, 2014
Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)
 
excellent build quality - GUI is responsive, smooth & has all the functions I need and expect in a 'high end' audio device - battery life is as advertised, which is sufficient for my daily needs - sound quality is superb (using shure SE846) - physical input buttons are easy to depress without needing to rotate device while carrying it in my hand - display is brilliant ......lanyard hole/port/interconnect opening isn't on this model (passer-bys on my commute commonly brush against my hands while moving about the metro-rail trains and substations) it would be nice to have the added security of a lanyard on my wrist attached to my expensive portable
Pros:
sound quality - portability - ease of use w/respect to physical input buttons - GUI is easy to navigate - Operating System is well written (no bugs yet) - responsive to user input - build integrity of chassis and buttons - display is pleasant to view
Cons:
attaching a lanyard isn't an option - expensive - no preamp output for my uplinking to my ken wood dnx890hd car dash receiver -(usb or electrical (electrical vs. photonics) - not OLD display
1 out of 1 people found this helpful
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