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Astell & Kern AK240 Master Quality Sound Portable Music Player

Astell & Kern

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8288

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The Astell & Kern AK240 represents the ultimate in high fidelity portable music. Offering ultra high quality playback the AK240 incorporates a high grade headphone amplifier with both balanced and unbalanced connections. There's 256GB of internal memory and room for expansion via the microSD card slot. The AK240 can handle playback of a variety of file formats including native DSD in 24 bit right up to 192kHz, playback of 32 bit files is also possible, although they are down sampled to 24.


Closer to Original Sound

Closer to Original Sound

After successfully launching the AK100 and the AK120 models, we asked ourselves, “What is the ultimate sound quality?” After much consideration, we decided to move a step further with our goal, which is to deliver the sound “exactly as the artist had intended” for us to hear. Moving from the AK100 to AK120, we decided to provide a Dual DAC setup to create better left and right channel separation with clearer sound quality. We thought that the Dual DAC setup would be enough, but while developing the AK240, we felt the need to further improve sound quality in order to accurately reproduce the original sound recording. After countless hours of research and testing, we were able to find the answer. The answer was to create both a balanced output and native DSD playback through the Dual DAC setup. Now with the AK240, we can dare say that we have gotten "that much closer" to the sound quality of the original recording.

What is DSD?

What is DSD?

DSD (Direct Stream Digital) is a digital audio file format originally developed for SACDs (Super Audio CD). Regular digital audio file formats such as PCM (Pulse Code Modulation) is separated into 65,000(16bit) to 16,700,000(24bit) of information on the Y axis, and 44,100(44.1kHz) to 192,000(192kHz) across the X axis for digital signals. DSD files have 1bit (0s or 1s) for Y axis and is separated into 2,800,000(2.8MHz) to 5,600,000(5.6MHz) of information for X axis. 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.

Native DSD Support

Native DSD Support

One of the approaches Astell & Kern decided that would help them move a step closer to the original sound quality was to provide native DSD playback without having to convert it into PCM. This was indeed a difficult task. In order to provide native DSD playback on the AK240, Astell & Kern had to select a different DAC chipset. Astell & Kern have decided to use the Cirrus Logic CS4398 chip in the Dual DAC setup with an added exclusive XMOS chip that will allow for Native DSD support.

Unbalanced vs. Balanced Output

Unbalanced vs. Balanced Output

The unbalanced method is the most commonly used basic method which consists of “left and right signals + ground line”. This setup includes a ground line which blocks out external noises from the outside. However, since the ground line cannot block out all of the external noises completely, external noises can be mixed into the signals that are transmitted, which then result in changes to the sound. The balanced method has a few advantages over the unbalanced method. The first advantage is that the hot signal and the cold signal will remove the external noises received. The second advantage is increased output due to the 2 transmitted signals. Since the ground line cannot block out 100% of the external noises, noise will appear on both the hot and cold signals. The alignment of the 2 signals allows the noise to usually appear at similar points where they will eventually be removed as the signals are transmitted.

Dual DAC meets Balanced Output

Dual DAC meets Balanced Output

It did not take us long to figure out that the AK240’s Dual DAC and balanced output resulted in the best sound. During the development of the AK100 and AK120, Astell&Kern's specific analogue amp setup was already creating full balanced analogue signals streaming from the DAC and we were able to move a step closer towards the original sound by then creating a balanced output terminal at the end.

MQS Streaming

MQS Streaming

To listen to your favorite music, you no longer have to turn on your computer, search for your music, wait for the songs to download, connect your player via USB cable, and then wait for the files to transfer to the player. Now with MQS Streaming, you can easily download or stream music directly from the AK240 by having the unit and your computer connected to the same network.

groovers

groovers

MQS music service provider "groovers" started with the launch of the AK100. With the AK240, you no longer need to go through the traditional process of purchasing and downloading music on your computer, now you can easily download MQS music directly from the AK240 via the groovers store link on the home page of the AK240. As long as you are in a Wi-Fi area, it is easy to download MQS music wherever you go.

OTA (Over-The-Air) Upgrade

OTA (Over-The-Air) Upgrade

It has been 13 years since iriver has used the term "firmware". Through these years, one had to check for new firmware updates by opening emails or checking the website. Now with a Wi-Fi connection, you can receive instant notifications about new firmware updates and can update your unit whenever and wherever you are.

Story Behind the Design

Story Behind the Design

The unique design of the AK240 was derived from the combination of light and shadow. The front asymmetric look of the unit was designed from the shape of the shadow when light was shining on it. This shape strongly represents the Astell&Kern brand which expresses uniqueness and class while strongly protecting the volume knob as well. The back of the unit is composed of real carbon fiber plates which blend well with the overall AK240 design.

Detailed 10-Band 0.5dB-step EQ Setting

Detailed 10-Band 0.5dB-step EQ Setting

More accurate EQ setting is available on the AK240 by doubling the bands (from 5 to 10 bands) and halving the dB steps (from 1dB to 0.5dB) available. One can also create and save customized preset EQ settings to fit various music genres.

Full Touch Screen

Full Touch Screen

Compared to the AK120, the 3.31 inch AMOLED display on the AK240 is about 82% bigger to provide more information at a glance. With the bigger display, the Full Touch screen makes it easy to navigate especially for smart phone users. The playback and volume control buttons have been upgraded on the AK240. Music tracks with long titles, such as a classical music, are displayed on 2 lines for better navigation. Due to the speedy file scanning functionality, a separate DB scanning function is no longer needed and file search is available for easy access to music.

USB DAC

USB DAC

The AK240 supports Native DSD USB DAC function. (DoP method) Through the USB connection, the AK240 can be used as a USB DAC which supports Native DSD playback. The combination of the exclusive DSD chip and the Dual DAC in the AK240 goes above and beyond most computer sound cards and is able to create a greater sense of space and deeper sound while listening to your music.

Exceptional AK240 Leather Case

Exceptional AK240 Leather Case

In order to raise the bar of the AK240 even higher, much attention was devoted to the selection of leather for the case. Minerva leather, originated from Badalassi Carlo was chosen for the case. A variety of trees and plants are involved in this tanning process which takes about 40 days to complete and only the most experienced professionals in Italy possess the skills to do it.

While we do our best to keep this information up to date, please be aware that all specifications are subject to change by the manufacturer at any time.

General Specifications

Model AK240
Body Color Gun Metal
Body Material Aircraft Grade Duralumin
Display 3.31inch WVGA (480 x 800) AMOLED Touchscreen
Supported Audio Formats WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE(Normal, High, Fast),
Sample rate AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF FLAC, WAV, ALAC, AIFF : 8kHz ~ 192kHz (8/16/24bits per Sample) / DSD Native : DSD64 (1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128 (1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo
Output Level Unbalance 2.1Vrms / Balance 2.3Vrms (Condition No Load)
DAC Cirrus Logic CS4398 x2 (Dual DAC)
Decoding Support up to 24bit/192kHz Bit to Bit Decoding, DSD64/128
Input USB Micro-B input (for charging & data transfer (PC & MAC)) / Connection Mode : MTP (Media Device)
Outputs PHONES (3.5mm) / Optical Out (3.5mm) / Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported)
Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)
Bluetooth V4.0
Dimensions 2.59 ”(66 mm) [W] x 4.21 ”(107 mm) [H] x 0.68 ”(17.5 mm) [D]
Weight 6.5 oz (185 g)
Feature Enhancements Firmware upgrades supported (OTA)

Audio Performance

Frequency Response ±0.023dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalance & Balance
/ ±0.3dB (Condition: 10Hz~70kHz) Unbalance & Balance
Signal to Noise Ratio 116dB @ 1kHz, Unbalance / 117dB @ 1kHz, Balance
Crosstalk 130dB @ 1kHz, Unbalance / 135dB @ 1kHz, Balance
THD+N 0.0007% @ 1kHz, Unbalance / 0.0005% @ 1kHz, Balance
IMD SMPTE 0.0004% 800Hz 10kHz(4:1) Unbalance / 0.0003% 800Hz 10kHz(4:1) Balance
Output Impedance Balanced out 2.5mm (1ohm) / PHONES 3.5mm (2ohm)

Clock source

Clock Jitter 50ps (Typ)

Battery

Capacity 3,250mAh 3.7V Li-Polymer Battery

Memory

Built-in Memory 256GB [NAND]
External Memory microSD (Max 128GB) x1

OS

Supported OS Windows XP, Windows 7,8 (32/64bit), MAC OS X 10.7 and up

While we do our best to keep this information up to date, please be aware that all specifications are subject to change by the manufacturer at any time.