Picture Sunday: Astell&Kern

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This week’s picture Sunday is all about our friends from iRiver, I mean, Astell&Kern.

iRiver wasn’t the most popular brand in the business but when their marketing team came up with the idea to relaunch the DAP department under the Astell&Kern name, they changed the business. The first two AK players, the original AK100 and AK120 had a unique design and their sound quality back then was revolutionary.

We used to carry external DACs and amps with our iPod Classic but the DAC chips in the A&K’s back then were so good they simply changed the portable audio world. A lot of people don’t like A&K because of their very high price setting, it’s something no one can deny but at the same time these players are selling like never before.


The basic AK380 pictured above will set you back a few thousand USD and it’s not even the most expensive version. In exchange however you get great sound and a portable player that oozes quality and style. I for one love the AK design but that’s a very personal thing. I’m pretty sure that almost everyone would be buying Astell&Kern if they were ten times less expensive.

What is your DAP and would you exchange it for an Astell&Kern if you had all the money in the world?

Relevant Links


AK120II & AK240 Review

AK380 Review

Ak Jr. Review

3.4/5 - (14 votes)

Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.

1 Comment

  • Reply August 19, 2016


    I can relate to this, I was using classic with goDapX for quite a long time, then I rockboxed for flac I realised I cant use any external devices with it (hardware encryption, curse you apple).
    I’ve tested AK300 among some other players (ibasso, cayin, onkyo) and It was best by a mile, second only to Cayin N6.
    At the end I couldn’t buy it and settled on Fiio X5II+CayinC5.

    Would I exchange it for AK? Any day, w/o a second tought. Ak not only cares deeply about sound and quality build. Their fork of Android, and whole UX that goes with it, is utterly incomparable. Like jumping from senior phone to totl smartphone.
    End game portable hardware.

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