iRiver launches new high-end Astell and Kern AK120 portable MQS player


Professional users and audiophiles are the “target” for iRiver’s newest portable MQS (Mastering Quality Sound) player, the AK120, the second such player to come from the company’s elite Astell and Kern brand.

The AK100 was the first portable player to come out under the brand and at $700, it was far and above other portable music players in price and scope. It was meant to cover a niche for those really particular about sound quality on the go.

The AK120 takes that a bit further with some upgrades. It has two digital-to-analog converters to output audio signals independently to each channel, something typically found in Hi-Fi receivers and other audio equipment. The same dual Wolfson WM8740 DAC chips in the AK100 are also found in the AK120, so there isn’t a particular upgrade there, but the audio quality is still meant to be as crisp and spacious as the previous model was.

The unit will have 64GB of built-in flash memory, double that of the AK100 out of the box, and has room for two microSD memory cards supporting 64GB each for a grand storage total of 192GB. This unit also addresses the lack of gapless playback that had been a drawback of the AK100. Now, live albums or concept DJ mixes can play uninterrupted, regardless of the audio file format. It’s unclear if syncing with a computer has been sped up as well.

The look and feel of the device follows that of the AK100, including the brushed metal and styled volume knob. The only difference appears to be that the AK120 has a slightly larger body.

It comes bundled with a handmade Italian-designed leather case and will sell for $1,300, considerably more than the AK100’s price tag. A final release date is expected to be announced soon.