I borrowed Sean Chan’s AK240 for a couple of weeks. I went in expecting the worst. Honestly, I expected another AK100, whose output would be sorely crippled so that three months down the line iRiver can sell you one with proper spec.
What I got was sweet-sound, a low noise floor, file compatibility out the whaazoo, a solid UI, and a generally well-made player. (I disagree with Lieven that this should be the reference to which other DAPs should measure themselves; contrariwise, I think it isn’t solidly enough built for its price tag- more on that later.)
Am I the target market for the AK240? Hell no. I’m not in the market for a 2500$ player from a company that changed itself from a consumer brand to the industry’s most expensive. That company would have to prove that it understands the market into which it is diving, as well as respect the customer to whom it markets its products. I don’t feel that iRiver is that company.
But that’s me.
I’ve never been more pleasantly surprised by an audiophile DAP. The few niggles I have are ones that I know no one else will care about:
– headphone output noise is higher than iBasso DX90
– headphone output suffers some drop in resolution when driving very low-Ω earphones, though most of its deficiencies next to the DX90 are inaudible
– The unit I borrowed suffered bad scratching of the letters on the back. Evidently, not all units suffer this same problem as L’s review sample had the printing behind the glass.
– WITF (you guess what this means) would iRiver use 2,5mm TRRS jack for balanced. 3,5mm TRRS balanced has been out in the portable world for over a decade. And if you don’t like lineage, go with something like Kubicon. WTF?
– an inadvertent twirl of the volume knob disengages the touch UI from whatever it was doing (even mid-swipe), and turns the screen into a giant volume touchpad. Be prepared to blow your ears. It is a dangerous example of duplicated functionality done wrong
Apart from the above, wow. The AK240 case flexes very little, has great, clean lines, is responsive, and really does play every file type you can throw at it. Wow. It’s classy in a Michael Bay sort of way.
I showed it around to several of my photographer friends, set it up next to a Leica M (240), got rick rolled (Sean’s taste in music is eclectic and endearing), and had a blast living large. Each of my friends thought it was pretty cool. Boys and their toys.
I would be happier if iRiver would design something truly simple with the same sound engine. Something smaller, something light, something classy in its own way. Something like the original AK100, which has celebrated its 1,5 year birthday, but that doesn’t feel old just three months down the line.
Smartphone users aren’t getting bigger. Neither are DAP users. Why do the DAPs we use have to grow every generation?