Astell&Kern AK70 MKII review: The best pocket-sized digital audio player in its price range

    The Astell&Kern AK70 MKII delivers quite a few refinements that simply makes this highly effective, versatile, and sweet-sounding hi-res digital audio participant the most effective in school.

    After I reviewed the unique Astell&Kern AK70, it checked off all the appropriate bins: Glossy styling, compact measurement, excellent audio efficiency, and a strong characteristic set. Now Astell&Kern is again with an up to date model of the AK70, designated as MarkII or MKII. Diehard music lovers who need to squeeze each ounce of constancy from their music gained’t thoughts shelling out the extra $100 commanded by the brand new mannequin’s quite a few refinements.

    Exterior refinements

    The participant itself is identical three.81-inch top, however measures a hair thicker (zero.59 inches) and wider (2.47 inches). It’s nonetheless extremely transportable and suits in a entrance or again pocket with ease, weighing a modest 5.29 ounces.

    Whereas the display screen measurement stays precisely the identical, the beveled facet and knurled quantity dial are the place you’ll discover the dimensions distinction. Though the quantity dial is only a bit bigger, it makes a outstanding tactile distinction when utilizing the AK70 MKII. It felt extra pure to make use of, and my thumb rested completely alongside the AK70 MKII’s proper facet. The amount dial sports activities a brand new, wave-knurled sample, which provides a cool visible when it displays gentle.

    Theo Nicolakis

    The AK70 MKII (left) and the unique AK70 on the appropriate.

    The MKII’s all-aluminum physique is available in your selection of two new colours, cadet blue or black. My evaluation pattern got here within the former and it’s beautiful. The DAP’s rear has a easy, glass end, with a midnight blue hue beneath.

    Twin DACs for audiophile efficiency

    You’ll discover additional refinements inside: In contrast to the preliminary mannequin, which had solely a single Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC, the MKII has twin Cirrus Logic CS4398 DACs—one devoted to every channel. The left and proper channels are absolutely separated from enter to output.

    The Astell&Kern AK70 MKII performs again 24-bit/192kHz indicators bit-for-bit. It’s going to downsample 32-bit audio with a sample-rate converter. A 32-bit/384kHz file, for instance, shall be downsampled to 24-bit/192kHz, and 32-bit/352kHz recordsdata get downsampled to 24-bit/176kHz. DSD 64/128 recordsdata are supported as nicely.

    Nearly each lossless and lossy codec is supported, together with FLAC, ALAC, WAV, APE, AIFF, DFF, DSF, OGG, AAC, and MP3. The participant gained’t playback protected AAC recordsdata, comparable to these downloaded from Apple Music’s subscription-based streaming service. You’ll need to use the highest-quality music recordsdata you may, as a result of the AK70 MKII is a very revealing digital audio participant. Glorious recordings in hi-res sound nice. Mediocre high quality music recordsdata present all their flaws.

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