This picture was taken by a friend of mine in Singapore when he was visiting the Zeppelin & Co personal audio shop. I really think this is a great picture that captures the beauty of the Solid Steel version of the Astell&Kern AK380, docked in its amp on a classic wooden table.
So just to be clear, I do own the AK380 but not this setup and not even an amp to dock my demo version in. The SS version of this setup costs around $4999 and Astell&Kern was supposed to only build 200 units. Some say it sounds different because of the material used but I have to admit I’m pretty skeptic about it. If I ever do get a change to hear it, I’ll report back about it.
While I absolutely love my AK380, I can’t deny that it is a lof of money for a portable DAP/DAC. The great thing about this hobby though is that there are brands like Fiio who try to bring the best quality to the market for only a fraction of the price. Just a few days ago we looked at their new 3rd generation X5 DAP, and it as good as blows away the $500 competition. While the X5iii of course doesn’t perform at the same level as the AK380, it does get you as close as you can get for $399.
These are great times for personal audio enthousiasts: there are tons of companies / products on the market and there are awesome products to be found in each price class. You’ve got to love it.