Although there are a few examples to the contrary, the words “portable” and “audiophile” normally aren’t uttered in the same sentence. But iriver is looking to change that perception with its Astell&Kern line MQS (Mastering Quality Sound) professional portable media players. Following on the successful launch of last year’s $699 AK100, the company is now introducing the upgraded AK120, which at $1300 (yeah, no, you read that correctly), delivers dual Wolfson WM8740 DACs, true dual-mono operation, and up to a staggering 192GB of storage space via its internal 64GB memory and two MicroSD card expansion slots.
Upgrades from the AK100 to the AK120 include future support for DSD decoding (which joins WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, and AIFF playback support); 113dB signal to noise ratio (an improvement over the AK100’s 110dB); -128dB crosstalk (vs. -120dB); 50ps clock jitter (vs. 90ps); double the storage space capacity; and support for Bluetooth HID (Human Interface Design).
In addition to headphone out, it also includes a USB out, as well as optical audio input and output. The AK120 also feature gapless playback, professional preset EQ settings, and a nifty onscreen UI that definitely sets the player apart from the audiophile pack.
The AK120 is ever-so-slightly larger than the AK100, but boasts the same brushed black metal design and overall styling. It also comes with “the finest handmade Italian-designed leather case,” which is handy, because I don’t see Otterbox making a case for this puppy anytime soon.