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Jodo Kast Sep 23, 2016

I recently bought the cheapest Astell & Kern portable music player, at a price of $340 from Amazon. The only way to charge the unit out of the box is through USB to PC. That's weird, so I bought it from a seller that also included a wall and car charger, which are required for my lifestyle. It has 64 GB of built in memory and is advertised to play WAV, APE, FLAC and a few other formats. Naturally, I dumped a large amount of APE files onto the unit, since I still have them. And they didn't play.

That's no big deal, since I have a large amount of albums encoded in WAV. I always make cue files, so I'm using CueTools to convert the albums to FLAC. Through an accident, a JPG cover art got transferred over, and it automatically displayed while the music was playing. I prefer that over the stock images on the player and I'm adding the front cover art to each album. I'm estimating that I'll fill the player up at around 190 albums in FLAC. It supports one SD card up to 200GB, so I'm good.

The interface is clunky beyond explanation, so I won't explain it.

No headphones were included and I chose a wired pair by Focal, somewhat randomly. The Focal headphones are of course not quite as good as the Sennheisers I own, but they are also $450 cheaper.

This unit has bluetooth and I've never tried that connectivity before. It sounds pretty good when paired with my Audioengine HD6 speakers, which have a built-in bluetooth antenna.

avatar! Sep 24, 2016

Looks like a good quality product. Expensive, but then again, you get what you pay for.

Zorbfish Sep 24, 2016

Yeah all modern players have terrible UI. I've been considering putting together a portable machine with a raspberry pi just so I could have full control over the interface and features I want.

GoldfishX Sep 24, 2016

Check to see if Rockbox is supported on the player. I use a similar player (Ibasso DX50) and Rockbox replaced the horrendous interface AND improved the sound quality tremendously. Also took care of file formats not being supported. I've stayed away from the A&K line primarily because of the price, but I haven't looked in the past year and a half or so, so good to see they are getting more affordable.

Good luck! Post a followup about it.

Jodo Kast Sep 28, 2016

I recently drove to North Carolina to attend a cousin's wedding (12 hours each way) and I used the A&K Jr. with the Focal Spirit One S headphones during most of the drive time, in the hotel room, and in my aunt's house. I put in more than 20 hours with the device.

The most salient observation of all was that certain albums just sounded superior. And these were the same albums I noticed to be a step above everything else on my Sennheiser headphones paired with a Marantz CD player - old Columbia albums like Insector X, old KOEI albums like Inindo Way of the Ninja, and Jesus the Fearful Bio Monster. Even going from a Konami Perfect Selection album right to Inindo is striking. Whatever KOEI did back in the day was masterful mastering.

Because I don't understand how to use the interface, I set the device to random play during driving time. During random play, it will randomly play any track in any folder on the device. During regular play, it will stop playing once the files in a folder are exhausted; it doesn't play music from the next folder as one would expect. I haven't figured out how to play more than one folder at a time with the exception of playing all folders at one time.

After further listening with the Bluetooth capabilities, I can hear now what people refer to as "thin" sound. I won't be using the BT capability again because it lacks too much. The device does support line out through the headphone jack and I'm curious to see how that sounds. More expensive models support optical out.

brandonk Jan 2, 2017

So someone stole my iPod classic 160 gb while traveling (and a bunch of other stuff )....was looking at Pono but seeing negative feedback and no news of upcoming models...was checking out the Astell & Kern Jr., but those prices are crazy...and I want at least 256 gb...was reading up on Ibasso DX50...that Rockbox is listed as "unstable"...just curious what my best path may be.

Ashley Winchester Jan 2, 2017

brandonk wrote:

iPod classic 160 gb

I didn't even think they sold the classic anymore. I remember looking a long time ago and all I could find was new ones but the prices were SO inflated because they were from secondary sellers. I took it that they discontinued the classic line since phones can hold most of a person's music these days. I unfortunately (but fortunately) don't feel the need to have a smartphone.

That said, don get me wrong. I would LOVE to get my hands on a classic again, but I can't justify spending that much on what is essentially seen as an outdated item that would be pretty much impossible to get serviced if something went wrong.

I pretty much use the Shuffle now, which I like for some reasons but completely despise because the battery sucks unless you use the ear buds that come with it. Seriously, try using the Shuffle with a serious set of headphones. Yeah, it doesn't work very well.

avatar! Jan 3, 2017

Hmmm, makes me wonder. Are there any portable music players still made in Japan? If so, they must be very high quality (and expensive). However, these days companies like to hide the fact where much of things are made (ie cheaply made by low-paid workers).

Ashley Winchester Jan 3, 2017

avatar! wrote:

However, these days companies like to hide the fact where much of things are made (ie cheaply made by low-paid workers).

I'm not sure if they hide it per say. The cat's been out of the bag for what seems eons, people (most of us) just choose to ignore it.

That said, I have to admit that I do like getting Japanese products and they say "Made in Japan." Oh yeah, you certainly pay for that, but the quality is usually there.  You have to admit that looks better than all the crap they pull on items over here like "assembled in the USA" (which may just mean assembled by machines, etc.) or certain gas stations that bragged about "keeping America strong" when all they did was refine the gas over here when the crude was coming from the middle east. That last one? I read the small type on TV ads; I'm not an idiot.

avatar! Jan 3, 2017 (edited Jan 3, 2017)

Ashley Winchester wrote:
avatar! wrote:

However, these days companies like to hide the fact where much of things are made (ie cheaply made by low-paid workers).

I'm not sure if they hide it per say. The cat's been out of the bag for what seems eons, people (most of us) just choose to ignore it.

That said, I have to admit that I do like getting Japanese products and they say "Made in Japan." Oh yeah, you certainly pay for that, but the quality is usually there.  You have to admit that looks better than all the crap they pull on items over here like "assembled in the USA" (which may just mean assembled by machines, etc.) or certain gas stations that bragged about "keeping America strong" when all they did was refine the gas over here when the crude was coming from the middle east. That last one? I read the small type on TV ads; I'm not an idiot.

You make a point Ashley, but still, I have to say I would rather purchase something that said "assembled in the USA" than "made in China". At least some jobs were kept/performed here in the USA. Now, in some instances you can find good quality made in the USA. Grado, I believe, is still made in the USA.

http://www.gradolabs.com/

I have one of their headphones, and you can get one for as low as $79 on amazon, and yes, they are superb quality. Next time I'm flying, I'm actually going to purchase a new one just to take for flights. But anyway, I'd be interested if anyone new of mp3 players made in Japan or somewhere of similar quality?

Ashley Winchester Jan 3, 2017

avatar! wrote:

[But anyway, I'd be interested if anyone new of mp3 players made in Japan or somewhere of similar quality?

Ditto. I'd be interested in this as well.

avatar! Jan 3, 2017

Ashley Winchester wrote:
avatar! wrote:

[But anyway, I'd be interested if anyone new of mp3 players made in Japan or somewhere of similar quality?

Ditto. I'd be interested in this as well.

Oops, that should be "knew" big_smile
Grammar grammar...

brandonk Jan 3, 2017 (edited Jan 3, 2017)

Ashley Winchester wrote:
avatar! wrote:

[But anyway, I'd be interested if anyone new of mp3 players made in Japan or somewhere of similar quality?

Ditto. I'd be interested in this as well.

I'm not sure this matters as much...I mean $1,000 for Sony's Media player that's only 128GB?? (Sony's 'Walkman'  https://www.cnet.com/products/sony-walkman-nw-zx2/)

who's kidding who here...we are definitely in the minority wanting quality music player at a fair price.

*update* - finding some more options here: http://www.crutchfield.com/S-Hi5zPtBHHV … ayers.html

*update* - well well...this device seems very "legit"...Pioneer XDP 100r

http://www.whathifi.com/pioneer/xdp-100r/review

avatar! Jan 3, 2017

brandonk wrote:
Ashley Winchester wrote:
avatar! wrote:

[But anyway, I'd be interested if anyone new of mp3 players made in Japan or somewhere of similar quality?

Ditto. I'd be interested in this as well.

I'm not sure this matters as much...I mean $1,000 for Sony's Media player that's only 128GB?? (Sony's 'Walkman'  https://www.cnet.com/products/sony-walkman-nw-zx2/)

who's kidding who here...we are definitely in the minority wanting quality music player at a fair price.

*update* - finding some more options here: http://www.crutchfield.com/S-Hi5zPtBHHV … ayers.html

*update* - well well...this device seems very "legit"...Pioneer XDP 100r

http://www.whathifi.com/pioneer/xdp-100r/review

So your first link doesn't work. Your other two, well I'm willing to bet those are all made in China. That doesn't mean they're bad quality, but I was hoping to find something made in Japan or a similar country with higher QA.

brandonk Jan 5, 2017 (edited Jan 5, 2017)

avatar! wrote:

So your first link doesn't work. Your other two, well I'm willing to bet those are all made in China. That doesn't mean they're bad quality, but I was hoping to find something made in Japan or a similar country with higher QA.

Sorry...here was the link to the Sony model: https://www.cnet.com/products/sony-walkman-nw-zx2/

from what I read it's really pushing a proprietary format to get the HD audio file.

My current Lean is towards the Pioneer XDP-100R and Astel and Kern...I think it's going to come down to space / SD card support.

Re: Pioneer XDP-100R (linked earlier from the WhatHiFi review)...I was reading that review again, and noticed the MOST 'pretentious-hipster' audiophile comments related to "MQA" file support (great...another file format)

"Played back on the Pioneer XDP-100R, the MQA difference is subtle. The MQA files demonstrated a better grasp of timing, with instruments working together more tightly and more deliberately. As a result, the performance feels tighter and more agile – just what the XDP-100R needs.
Read more at http://www.whathifi.com/pioneer/xdp-100r/review#msbDqA5pal84zyfr.99"

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