Astell&Kern AK240 // Digital Music Player with DSD 256GB

$ 2,499.00 $ 1,999.00

Astell&Kern AK240 // Digital Music Player with DSD 256GB

$ 2,499.00 $ 1,999.00

After successfully launching the AK100 and the AK120 models, A&K asked themselves, “What is the ultimate sound quality?” After much consideration, they decided to move a step further with our goal, which is to deliver the sound “exactly as the artist had intended” for them to hear. Moving from the AK100 to AK120, they decided to provide a Dual DAC setup to create better left and right channel separation with clearer sound quality. A&K thought that the Dual DAC setup would be enough, but while developing the AK240, they felt the need to further improve sound quality in order to accurately reproduce the original sound recording. After countless hours of research and testing, they 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, A&K can dare say that they have gotten “that much closer” to the sound quality of the original recording.

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SKU: AK240

Native DSD Support

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.

One of the approaches A&K 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, we had to select a different DAC chipset. Making the decision to change the DAC was not easy, but in order to reach their goal, they had to make a bold move which was to start from scratch.

A&K asked themselves: Does the DAC support Native DSD?
Will it allow for the Dual DAC setup? What else is needed for the perfect Native DSD support?

In order to answer these three questions, they 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.

The process of setting up Native DSD support was not an easy task. Since the main CPU does not process Native DSD, they needed a chip that will work with it. It took A&K a long time, they we made it work. Through countless hours of testing, A&K was able to achieve Native DSD playback by having the main CPU process the data, send it to the exclusive XMOS chip, then through the DAC to deliver the sound.

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 longer the signals travel, the more external noises that will be mixed into the sound which is why it is used within a short distance of 1 to 2 meters.

Unlike the unbalanced method, the balanced method has an additional cold signal to compliment the hot signal which reduces the external noises.

Dual DAC meets Balanced Output

It did not take A&K 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 they were able to move a step closer towards the original sound by then creating a balanced output terminal at the end.

256GB of Massive Storage

Astell&Kern has created the AK120 Titan with a storage capacity of 128GB, but in order to support Native DSD, MQS, and massive audio files, they had to come up with the ultimate portable music player with 256GB of storage. With 256GB of internal memory, about 2,500 MQS (24bit/96kHz, 4 minute-long, 90MB) songs can be saved. With the addition of a 128GB microSD card, the AK240 can support up to a total memory capacity of 384GB.

Specifications

General Specs
Display3.31inch WVGA (480 x 800) AMOLED Touchscreen
Supported Audio FormatsWAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE(Normal, High, Fast), AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF
Sample rateFLAC, WAV, ALAC, AIFF : 8kHz ~ 192kHz (8/16/24bits per Sample)/ DSD : DSD64 (1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128 (1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo
Output LevelUnbalance 2.1Vrms / Balance 2.3Vrms (Condition No Load)
DACCirrus Logic CS4398 x2 (Dual DAC)
DecodingSupports up to 24-bit / 192kHz Bit to Bit Decoding
InputsUSB Micro-B input (for charging & data transfer (PC & MAC)) Connection Mode : MTP (Media Device)
OutputsPHONES (3.5mm) / Optical Out (3.5mm) / Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported)
Dimensions2.16 ”(55 mm) [W] x 4.64 ”(118 mm) [H] x 0.58 ”(14.9 mm) [D]
Weight6.24 oz (177 g)
Wi-Fi802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)
BluetoothV4.0
Feature EnhancementsFirmware upgrades supported (OTA)
Audio Performance
Frequency Response±0.023dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalance & Balance / ±0.3dB (Condition: 10Hz~70kHz) Unbalance & Balance
Signal to Noise Ratio116dB @ 1kHz, Unbalance / 117dB @ 1kHz, Balance
Crosstalk130dB @ 1kHz, Unbalance / 135dB @ 1kHz, Balance
THD+N0.0007% @ 1kHz, Unbalance / 0.0005% @ 1kHz, Balance
IMD SMPTE0.0004% 800Hz 10kHz(4:1) Unbalance / 0.0003% 800Hz 10kHz(4:1) Balance
Output ImpedanceBalanced out 2.5mm (1ohm) / PHONES 3.5mm (2ohm)
Clock Source
Clock Jitter50ps (Typ)
Battery
Capacity3,250mAh 3.7V Li-Polymer Battery
Memory
Built-in Memory128GB [NAND]
External MemorymicroSD (Max 128GB) x1
OS
Supported OSWindows XP, Windows Vista,7,8 (32/64bit), MAC OS X 10.7 and up

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