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The Ultimate Joy of Music AK120

What is the Portable MQS System?

Astell&Kern is the ultimate portable high-fidelity audio system capable of studio Mastering Quality Sound (MQS)

Mastering Quality Sound (MQS) is an acronym of collective lossless & high-resolution audio source formats, typically in 24-bit/44 to 192kHz of bit/sampling rates. Because MQS delivers about 6.5 times more detail than a conventional CD format (16bit/44.1kHz), listeners can enjoy a better and a more realistic sound quality.

24-bit/44 to 192kHz is the music industry norm used in the mastering process during sound production. However, the result of high resolution music files has to be compressed down to 16bit/44.1kHz so it can be stored into a single CD due to the memory storage shortcomings (~700MB). To produce the MP3 format, the high-resolution audio is compressed even further to 128 to 320kbps for the convenience of file size. These compressions remove the enormous amount of the details of the original recording because of memory storage limitations and listeners will never be able to hear the details.


Source frequency analysis comparison

frequencies up to 16kHz. However, WAV formats sampled in 48kHz can be reproduced up to 22kHz and higher. Frequency rates When comparing the frequency of each digital audio format, data loss is even more visible. MP3 formats can only reproduce of MQS files sampled in 44 to 192kHz can be reproduced even further than the WAV format.

Noise Detected during Balanced Output img
Noise Removed After Detection img
Noise Removal Complete img

DSD Playback support

High-Definition Digital Audio Formats and DSD Playback support with the AK120

DSD(Direct Stream Digital) is the digital audio format found embedded into SACD(Super Audio CD) physical media.
In common digital audio recording, PCM(Pulse Code Modulation) is the Y-axis of a sine wave is divided into 65000 (16bit) to 1,670 million(24bit) and the X-axis is divided into 44,000(44.1kHz) to 192,000(192kHz) parts. When comparing a standard PCM digital recording to the DSD approach, the digital signal is transformed by Y-axis of the DSD sine waves that are measured at single bit(1bit, 0s and 1s) sequence and is divided 2.8 million(2.8MHz) to 5.6 million(5.6MHz) times into the X-axis.
In general, when comparing SACD and PCM 16bit/44.1kHz Audio CDs, SACDs are recorded in frequency ranges up to 100kHz and greatly expand the dynamic range over 120dB while maintaining clarity of sound that a traditional PCM audio signal cannot reproduce. In order to listen to SACD, a dedicated SACD player is needed, but the AK120 brings SACD audio format playback to a portable player with DSD audio support. Enjoy the sound of DSD without a separate SACD player with the AK120. (AK120 supports the .dff and .dsf DSD formats up to 2.8MHz resolution.)

img PCM
img DSD

Meets the Standards of Hi-Fi Audio

THD+N (1kHz 0dB, No load)


THD + Noise (Distortion) over the THD + Noise signal rate, less distortion is heard. The AK120 achieves a 0.0008% distortion signal rate.

Crosstalk (1kHz 0dB, No load)


CROSSTALK The higher the number in the crosstalk specification, the higher the isolation in the Left/Right channels develops. The AK120 has a crosstalk specification of -128dB.

Jitter (1kHz 0dB, No load)


Jitter With smaller figures representing irregular tremors of the signal waveform, the better the device performs. The AK120 has a Jitter specification of 50ps.

Signal to Noise Ratio (1kHz 0dB, No load)


SNR (Signal to Noise Ratio) As the signal-to-noise ratio increases, the clearer the sound becomes. AK120 signal-to-noise specification is 113dB.

Frequency Response (1kHz 0dB, No load)


Frequency Response The frequency response specification of +0.02 to -0.02 in the AK120 provides a clear sound from Bass to Treble.

Equipped with the Wolfson 8740 DAC

AK120 DAC & Amp Creates a Dual Mono System that separates Left & Right Audio Channels

From input to output, the design of the dual Wolfson WM8740 DAC implemented in the Astell&Kern AK120 independently separates the left and right audio channels, creating a true Dual-Mono audio output system. When the analog audio signal passes through the dual Wolfson WM8740 DAC, not only does the AK120 use the Ultralow Distortion and Noise Technology, but executes the optimal digital noise reduction technology combined into the analog amp. The dual DAC built-in to the AK120 forms a dual-monaural audio ecosystem that brings wider soundstage, channel separation, and an overall richer sound.

24-bit/192kHz, SNR, THD+N → Hi-Fi Audio Spec


External DAC Support

Use the AK120 as an external DAC through the USB port.

With the Astell&Kern AK120, the Wolfson WM8740 chips can also be used as an external DAC through the USB terminal. Enjoy more lively sound from the music files stored through a variety of sources, including computers and car audio systems. The optical IN port of the AK120 can also be used as an external DAC.

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Total memory

The AK120 is equipped with dual microSD card slots and supports up to 192GB of storage space.
The AK120 comes with 64GB of high-speed internal flash memory and dual microSD memory card slots capable of supporting up to 64GB of memory in each slot. Store up to 192GB of high-resolution audio with the AK120.
4 generations of MQS Albums supported on microSD cards
The additional memory card slot holds an important point. 24-bit album recordings will soon be released with music files stored in microSD memory cards. For a mainstream album, LP (vinyl) records would be considered as first generation, second generations are cassette tapes, and Compact Discs (CDs) is the third and current generation. Fourth generation albums are considered as MQS albums that are released in high capacity microSD memory cards. Comfortably enjoy two albums at once through the dual memory card slots of the Astell&Kern.
- The Astell&Kern supports MQS high-resolution music stored on microSD cards.

A Touch Equalizer Controlled by a Single Swipe

A Practical EQ Determines the Change in Frequency Response

With the Astell&Kern and a nice set of headphones, audio enthusiasts will appreciate even more various genres of music. Use the touch interface of the built-in 5-band equalizer to delicately find the tone you desire. In addition, touch the screen to finely adjust the value of each band.

The world reknowned master of high-end speaker systems, CEO of Metal Sound Designs: Kuk-il Yu, re-creates a high-resolution miracle only felt from the AK120.


T2009 CES Innovations Awards [RHEA W]


2009 CES Innovations Awards [RHEA W]

Q. My first experience with Astell&Kern

“At the official launch event of the Astell&Kern, I could pick up the great sound quality of the AK100 immediately. The spaciousness, clarity, and the soundstage of the AK100 was nothing less than the music from other tens of thousands dollar worth of hi-fi audio components of premium brands. With the AK120, which adopts dual DAC technology to handle the left and right audio channels separately, I could feel even greater soundstage and more intense sound.”

Q. The history and development of Pro EQ

“In order to tell whether the sound is right, you needed to listen to various genres of music over and over. The journey of finding the Pro EQ started by listening to the variety of genres of music -- Jazz, classical, pop, hip-hop, etc. I believe I’ve listened to those tracks well over a couple of thoudsand times. I also recollected my memories of several live performances that I’ve observed from many concerts. I’ve listened to the AK120 TITAN well over hundred times per track, and even more than 500 times for a complicated piece such as Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5, which is about 40 min long, in the hope of finding the most realistic sound setting. To me, good sound is something that sounds exactly like you are listening to it at the recording session. If the music sounds somewhat strange, then there is a high probability of some kind of distortion in place. On the contrary, when the music sounds more comfortable, and you can hear more details, it is very likely that you are experiencing true hi-fi. Another aspect of good sound is soundstage. It is hard to justify what the best aural experience should be like. However, the spaciousness and depth of the performance is another way to judge the sound quality. I’ve focused on finding the closest setting possible that creates the clearest image possible. As a piece of quartet performance is being played, the Pro EQ setting will help listeners to pinpoint the exact angle of each and every performer.”

It would be a marvelous journey of music when you are listening to the Astell&Kern with its Pro EQ setting, and we hope you can also experience Yu’s philosophy on the most realistic sound.

UI with an Integrated Touch Screen and Control Buttons

Navigation bar for easier navigation
The AK120 offers very intuitive user experience through a more robust and sensitive touch screen.

The 2.4 inch touchscreen and the integrated hardware control buttons on the right and left side of the AK120 make setup quick and easy. Now with an updated and intuitive graphic user interface of the AK120, find your favorite tunes quickly even without taking it out of your pocket. The curved design of the volume wheel guard provides additional protection to the volume wheel.

Combined Graphic User Interface(GUI) and Physical User Interface (PUI)

The updated GUI offers faster selection of your large library of music. Setting up the desired equalizer is also easy and is simple as a swipe of your fingers. The main GUI consists of six (6) key icons to help navigate and play your favorites quickly. Touching the upper part of the main menu instantly brings you back to the “Now Playing” screen. Access your current playlist in a flash by touching the left side of the “Now Playing” screen. Touching the “Option” icon brings up the other option settings, including the EQ settings. The dedicated GUI design give easy access of music makes the AK120 a true hi-resolution audio companion.

Navigation bar for easier navigation


A brushed aluminum body with superior craftsmanship

The brushed aluminum pores finish represents a deep and refined craftsmanship not traditionally found in a combination.
More solid and refined design impression of the AK120
The design of the volume wheel protector resembles the bridge of a stringed instrument and hints at the more enriched sound from the AK120. Luxurious details are not missed at all with the AK120. The red ring wrapped around the volume wheel is a design statement of the Astell&Kern identity and the fine craftsmanship of all metal components reassures the long lasting quality of the Astell&Kern.