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December 30, 2012

Would you pay $699 for a portable music player that holds 160 songs?


Consider that a 16GB iPod nano ($144.95) holds 4,000 songs in MP3 format.

The AK100's 32GB memory can be upgraded — for a price — to 96GB by adding memory cards, so maybe 480 songs is sweeter music.

Consider also that this digital-to-analog converting device from Astell & Kern doesn't come with earphones: you'll need to supply some really good ones — think $300 and up — so as not to make them the weakest link in the music chain.

You'll want to know that the audiophile-grade song downloads this device is meant for cost more than their iTune counterparts: For example, Green Day's "21st Century Breakdown" costs $17.98 for the full 24-bit album download at HDtracks.com versus $11.99 on iTunes.

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot: the selection at online hi-def audio retailers is much more limited — a fraction of what's on iTunes — because songs must be specially mastered in the studio to deliver true 24-bit sound: a typical MP3 weighs in at 4MB for a four-minute song while the same song in lossless format for the AK100 takes up 200MB.

The device is about half the size of a pack of cigarettes.

And the interface is kind of clunky and hard to use.

Still want one?


$699 here.

[via USA Today]

December 30, 2012 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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Neil Young.

You could look it up.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Dec 31, 2012 8:04:22 PM

There's no audio like sitting in front of the brass section!

Posted by: Flautist | Dec 31, 2012 5:20:36 PM

"Peachies will never learn".

Damn, you discovered my mantra!

Posted by: joepeach | Dec 31, 2012 5:02:12 PM

I've done it with friends that had half million dollar equipment. A good friend of mine had the same speakers that the Beatles recorded with -- not the EXACT same ones, but from the same line. This wa a magical experience.

And somewhere a long the line, I got sick of switching out the remastered discs I bought him for Christmas that year (it was the entire line...something like $400 if I remember) and hooked up my iPod. He actually told me how you'd never get that good of audio with MP3s...and then I showed he we stopped listening to CDs a while ago and had moved to the iPod.

Changed his attitude.

Of course, we listened to SgtPepper on vinyl as well...much more compressed. Again, because vinyl HAS TO BE.

People have this believe in vinyl from listening to CDs that were 'mastered' from the record blanks without changing a single thing else. Some of the compression is expanded back in the circuitry of phonos. The EQ is designed to be a default against the RIAA curves to combat the physical limitation. Anyone in industry tells you that you should NEVER EQ something down and then later in the line reEQ it back up. You do it once. This is what records do.

People judge records from their experience listening to the 'classics' in the late 80s and early 90s thinking that just because the CD players didn't have the circuitry for expansion and change in EQ that it was bad. Nope...just lazy engineers that weren't training on a new technology.

Unfortunately the myth has prevailed. And I guess the Peachies will never learn. Hell, now that folks are engineering towards high bit rate MP3s/ AACs and otherwise...the limitations of these are now pretty much gone. You have far more information preserved than on dented wax that is going to deform each and everytime the needle touches the surface...so even MP3s are better media than vinyl...except to those that don't want to listen without prejudice.

Posted by: clifyt | Dec 31, 2012 12:19:20 PM

Ah yes, the endless debate of bits, bytes and plans of men and mice!

Bring your MP3s to a friend or a shop that has vinyl and high grade equipment

and well done recordings.

Sit back, don't discuss, just listen.

Posted by: joepeach | Dec 31, 2012 11:04:42 AM

Hell, if money were no object, count me in. Of course, I'd have to have a 5 or 6 of them to hold my favorite music, but yeah, even if it is just a placebo affect, I'd want the bits and the illusion.

Posted by: tamra | Dec 31, 2012 3:09:43 AM

I always find this sort of thing interesting. I've been behind the scenes recording with some of the more known artists out there...ones that have lasted, not the current pop stars that still deal with glitz over substance (it may change for some of them, probably not for most).

That said, hearing what goes on, there is absolutely no way to capture this accurately. No way to capture the audio of concerts, no way to get the dynamics in the studio before things are compressed to hell. No way to capture the sound of sticking your head in an individual recording booth while others are in another room isolated and hear just this instrument or voice alone. Being able to stand on stage in front of a horn section and hear it in a way no one else can. To be there as the leslie kicks on in a way that can never capture the dopler effect as the rotors spin.

You are getting a small part of the sound no matter what you think. You are getting a compromised vision of the stage with MP3 or 24 bit audio.

Beyond this, this is a numbers game. 24 bit gives you 144db of audio. Enough to cause nausia. 0 to 144db. 16 bit give you 96db of audio. At full range, it gives ear damage well below the limits. It is far high enough to give you anything needed musical in this range and then some. 24bit/144db goes beyond this. A gun shot is around 130db. Do you really need to be able to hear the range of music from nothing to gun shot and beyond?

In the studio? 24bit and beyond are awesome. It allows for better math when summing up the hundreds of tracks and end up being dropped down to either a stereo channel or 5.1 channels of audio. It takes the standard error to something imperceptible and reduces distortion. However, once mixed down? There is absolutely no need to keep things in 24 bits and waste space and computing resources.

All in all, it is the same sort of moronic move with the numbers game that people that can't actually hear the difference but absolutely want to feel special do. It is like the folks that play records and act as if they are audiophiles without admitting that their is an RIAA curve to their records that compress the hell out of them, limit the EQ, and adds an effect that changes the sound much the same way distortion changes the sound of a guitar. Might sound better, but in no sense is it more pure.

Posted by: clifyt | Dec 30, 2012 11:02:39 PM

Show me some double-blind tests which demonstrate that a statistically-significant majority of folks can tell the difference between 24-bit audio delivered to your ear canals on a golden platter and a regular old VBR-encoded MP3 pumped through Cupertino's latest (use the same 'phones for both, as those will likely have a better say in the quality of your listening experience).

If you give me that, I'll consider it.

Or possibly just pay for the singing Flautist.

Posted by: Nathan | Dec 30, 2012 6:55:01 PM

Joepeach is right; which is why I still listen to vinyl!

Posted by: jim` | Dec 30, 2012 6:16:23 PM

Slack and age has (have?) me eschewing the canned, no matter how crystalline and throbbing, and craving the live.

For $699 + 1st class travel expenses I will come to your house and sing 160 selected tunes. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Posted by: Flautist | Dec 30, 2012 5:47:31 PM

It's not wise to get into this type of reproduction,

(unless you have the money or splurge)(well worth it!)

for once your ears are open,

you can not return to MP3 or inferior recordings.

Posted by: joepeach | Dec 30, 2012 5:20:46 PM

No, thank you. I will stick with my old iPod any day!

Posted by: Caffeinated Joe | Dec 30, 2012 4:28:49 PM

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