Disclaimer: The AK70ii was sent to us free of charge by Astell&Kern directly in exchange for this review. The AK units are long term samples and just like the AK70 it will be returned to AK.
The South-Korean Astell&Kern does no longer need an introduction anymore as they quickly have become one of the world’s most famous DAP makers. Sure you might not like their marketing campaigns or price setting but you can’t deny the sublime design and top quality sound their unites have.
In today’s review we’re looking at the mid-fi AK70ii, which is the Astell&Kern’s AK70 successor. The original AK70 won a double award here on Headfonia when it was released and so we have really high hopes for the 2nd revision of this DAP.
The AK70ii is very much like the original AK70, therefore it’s a good idea to read about the AK70 first, as we won’t go into all the same details all over again. You can find the AK70’s reviews here:
The main difference with the original AK70 everyone talks about, is of course the use of a double DAC. The Dual DAC separates the left and right audio channels from input to output and according to AK, you as a result of that get a higher quality audio output with the same refined sound. The AK70ii actually is the first model from Astell&Kern to be equipped with a dual DAC for under a thousand dollars. Its separated channel circuit design offers less noise and interference, yet adds more fidelity and audio output power, to create a bigger sound stage with clearer imaging when paired with your favorite cans or speakers.
The AK70ii sports a double Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC-chip and it allows the AK70ii to play any resolution of digital files up to 24-bit/192 kHz, bit-for-bit. 32-bit audio and single or double rate DSD can also be played, but it will be converted to PCM or down sampled.
Of course the AK70ii comes with the 3.5mm single ended output as well as AK’s typical 2.5mm Balanced output. For those who prefer wireless, AK has incorporated Bluetooth V4.0 (A2DP, AVRCP, aptXtm HD) in the unit.
The full specs of the unit can be consulted on the last page of the review. The price of the new AK70ii is set at $699 USD.
AK70II Looks & Design
The black anodized body shimmers like the sea at night and the aqua colored volume knob accent produces a calming wave pattern. In perfect contrast, the rear glass case is an extension of the volume knob’s aesthetic aqua color.
I like the design of the original AK70ii with its mint color and the AK70ii’s design isn’t all that different, so it’s only logic I really like the new design too. The AK70ii is available in blue and black (our version) The new AK70ii is a tad thicker and wider in size but if you have them them next to each other, you wouldn’t even know. At only 15.2 mm (0.59 in) thick and a 150 grams (5.3 oz), the new AK70ii is still a small and very pocketable portable player. The AK70ii fits just right in your hand or pocket when you are on the go.
This time round, the new AK70ii’s body color is Noir Black and it of course still has an aluminum body. The AK70ii features a 3.3inch WVGA (480 x 800) TFT LCD. Lay-out and functionality-wise the new AK70ii is as good as the same as the original and all the buttons and connectors are in the same place as well.
A nice touch is that the AK70ii has a new volume wheel design and I have to say I think the blue detail in the button is just gorgeous. The AK70ii yet again is a well-designed, perfectly built and gorgeous little DAP.
AK70ii Usability & Features
There’s no change in functionalities compared to the original AK70 and that’s perfectly fine as it already was a very versatile DAP. UI-wise there also isn’t any real change and getting to know the DAP menu structure and using it is a piece of cake.
The outputs on the AK70ii are the standard 3.5mm single out, the AK 2.5mm balanced out and the USB-out function which allows using your AK70ii as a media source or as DAC for other sources. Then there’s also the AK ripper and AK connect (big fan) which turns your AK70ii into a streaming device (DLNA). Of course there’s the Tidal integration but if you’re not into streaming you can just use the 64gb internal memory or your MicroSD card. The AK70 firmware is up-gradable Over The Air.
The 2,500mAh 3.7V Li-Polymer battery inside the AK70ii is 300mAh bigger in capacity compared to the original but in practice I don’t really see any difference in usage. Depending on the type of files you use and the screen usage/intensity, you will get between 8h to 10h of air time.
The User Interface is the typical one from AK and I love it. Compared to other brands this is the easiest, most complete, fastest and most stable one out there. Getting used to the AK70ii’s UI takes two minutes and I won’t go into detail again about all the different screens. The only thing I think they missed is the fact that you can’t change the volume without unlocking the AK70 when it’s being used in DAC mode.
I’m not an avid user of BlueTooth and I’ve only tested the BT-connectivity with the Beyerdynamic Aventho Wireless at my office. It works perfectly find there but I’ll leave it up to the BT experts to analyze this feature.
The AK70ii has a compact size for easy carrying and one-handed operation but also on your desktop the AK70ii will stand its man. A simple USB connection allows the AK70 MKii to be used as a digital music storage device and/or pre-amp to output digital audio through USB.
The review continues on page 2, after the click HERE or the jump below