These days the bypass solution for Apple and Android is not an entirely new concept. When the Solo came out people went ape for the ability to do this, now Fostex, FiiO and Sony have come out with constantly evolving devices that make this market far more competitive than it used to be. Added to that the awesome Astell & Kern DAP’s and the whole need to play music from your mobile phone becomes less and less appealing to many. You could argue that at $299 the AK10 is much cheaper than those offered by the likes of Sony but then along comes the FiiO E18 and simply blows that argument away which leads me back to the original statement – it is a bit of an ugly duckling for what it is and capable of more than how it looks. How it looks is all Astell & Kern (yes I know Beyer have one out also but it feels more like an AK unit to me), how it functions is ok also but how it sounds, though musical and engaging, is perhaps a bit limited given the price point.

Technical Specifications

Output Level 1.7Vrms [[email protected] 48kHz, No Load PC standard]
Audio Performance SNR 110dB [[email protected] 48kHz, No Load]
THD+N Typ. 0.008% [[email protected] 48KhZ, No Load]
Crosstalk 106dB [[email protected] 48kHz No Load]
Frequency Response ±0.2dB [[email protected] 48kHz No Load]
USB POWER : 5.0V, 500mA
Accessories include: AK10 USB cable, AK10 Lightning cable

Price: SRP $299

Links

http://www.astellnkern.com/

Comments

16 Responses

  1. 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.

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • 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

        George did you try it from a tablet? What where your results?

      • headfonics

        I still think it is worth going the whole hog and using the Theorem

    • Gabriel

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

      Reply
      • 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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