Astell & Kern, along with Ibasso, FiiO and Hifiman have pretty much dragged the DAP market from out of its darkened sulky cave it has lived in for the last 7 years since the launch of the iPhone. DAP’s are cool again according to iRiver and the Astell & Kern brand has given us some stellar and cool “must have ” products such as the AK100, AK120 and the fiscal and audiophile behemouth – the recently launched AK240. Yet somewhere in that trail blazing awesome line up stands something of an ‘ugly duckling’, the USB and portable AMP/DAC, the AK10.

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About The Author

Editor

Founder & Owner of headfonics.com. I first started reviewing in the late 80s (ouch!). Back then it was albums, rock concerts and interviews with a typewriter for the local rag. Now its desktop/portable and digital 2.1 audio on a rather nice laptop. How time flies.

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  • George Lai

    When I use my AK10, I always turn the volume wheel anti clockwise a few times before pressing play, a habit from old days Hi-Fi , so it’s less of a problem for me. I have a few DAC amps and the AK10 is perfect for not just hiss-free use for IEMs but the lower power means I don’t have to baby my volume control. And it is genuinely pocketable to boot. Let’s agree to disagree but the e18 is the ugly duckling. Thanks for a great review.

    • headfonics

      Thanks George! IEM users will feel at home with the AK10 that is for sure but maybe the roaring success of their own DAP line somehow makes the AK10 a counter argument to their own DAP’s – hence the ugly duckling comment.

      I have yet to test the Beyer version, I think I read somewhere the audio playback is bit better but thats just second hand information.

      • George Lai

        I guess since I’m an avowed iPod and iPhone user, AK’s DAPs don’t attract me. So with the AK10, I get to sample the AK hype whilst pairing it with the UI-can’t-be-beat iDevices. As for the Beyerdynamic version I read that it has a volume limiter. Boo.

        • headfonics

          Yeah but the limiter is for EU regulations where I think all audio devices have a similar setup – mind you I believe there is a button config you can press to deactivate the limiter on the AK10.

          • George Lai

            Yes I read about that button config somewhere too

      • George Lai

        I just discovered that for Mac users iRiver had issued a firmware update on Valentine’s Day where my files are now output as 96 bit KHz PCM when I use the Onkyo HF Player app on my iPhone 5S. Apparently it also works for the FLAC player app too.

        • headfonics

          Does it apply to windows also?

    • Gabriel

      The FiiO E18 stumps all over this over priced cheap looking thing…no contest!

      • George Lai

        One shouldn’t really compare the two. The e18 works with Android, the AK10 with both Android and iPhone/iPad.

        • Gabriel

          Fixed it
          “If you have android, the FiiO E18 stumps all over this over priced cheap looking thing…no contest!”

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