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Astell & Kern AK70 Digital Music Player


Astell & Kern

Moon Audio

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NEW The AK70 digital music player by Astell & Kern is the newest entry level DAP (digital audio player) in their collection. It is the first music player by AK to offer USB Audio output connectivity. 

  • Plays 24bit 192kHz signals into bit-to-bit type.* 

  • 32bit audio is downsampled using a sample-rate converter

  • DSD 64/128 can be played back by PCM conversion.**

  • Single Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC chip

  • Offering 64GB of internal memory, you can also expand its storage up to 200GB via the included MicroSD slot. 

  • Wi-Fi compatible, allowing over-the-air firmware updates and playback from DLNA 1.0 servers.

  • Includes both a 2.5mm balanced & 3.5mm standard socket.

  • Output power capable up to 2.3Vrms or equal to the top of the line AK380. 

  • 29% lighter, 17% smaller, 1.9mm thinner compare to AK100ii

* 32bit, 384kHz is downsampled to 24bit, 192kHz, and 32bit, 352kHz is downsampled to 24bit, 176kHz for playback.
* DSD 64/128 is converted via DSD-to-PCM to PCM 24bit, 176kHz for playback.




Design Concept

The AK70 is designed with an oblique angle on one side of the body so that it can fit the contour of the user's thumb, the finger used most frequently when controlling the screen with one hand.

The volume wheel is designed to be protruding slightly from a concave surface so that you can control volume with a simple motion of sliding your finger up and down. With slim 13-mm thickness and 132-gram lightweight, the palm-sized device is easy to carry anywhere.

The AK70 has adopted a pastel-color anodized aluminum casing, which makes it look high quality with its light mint color and glossy silver tone. The smart-looking exterior and smooth color make the device look more casual and simpler.

AK70 plays back 24bit 192kHz signals into bit-to-bit type.

AK70's Diverse Output Types - Balanced Output

The AK70 supports the 2.5-mm 4-pole balanced output (2.3 Vrms) that has been in use since the second generation of the Astell&Kern players.

Unlike the unbalanced type, the balanced output type is capable of removing noise (common mode noise) that can occur in “signal + inverting amplifier signal” and has the strength of increasing output due to its double transmitting signals.
The AK70 can be used with a variety of balanced earphones and headphones made for Astell&Kern. It can also support the 3.5-mm 3-pole unbalanced output (2.3 Vrms), with compatibility with a variety of Hi-Fi earphones and headphones.

Variety of Output Types of AK70 - USB Audio

AK70 USB Connect Instructions

The AK70 supports USB audio digital out, first among Astell&Kern devices.
You can connect diverse digital-input portable amps through USB to the AK70. The AK70 can transfer DSD in native through DoP. It can also convert DSD into PCM for output for portable amps that do not support DoP.
* USB audio output is available only when digital input is possible through USB.
* DoP (DSD over PCM) : This is a standard for transferring DSD data to USB interface. This standard sends DSD data by mounting them onto PCM data frames.
* In order to link the AK70 with a portable amp, one needs OTG cable, which is not included in the AK70 package.
* The cable connecting OTG cable with a portable amp differs depending on the specs of the amp, >which is not included in the AK70 package.

Variety of Output Types of AK70 - USB DAC

The AK70 can be used with a USB DAC that can double as an embedded sound card by connecting with a PC/Mac through the USB port.
In the case of using the PC's embedded sound card, one may have to go through a complicated process to play back DSD data. In contrast, the AK70 can do so simply by connecting with the PC.

In the case of using the AK70 as a USB DAC, it can support up to 24-bit 96 kHz bit to bit, providing much richer sound through superior ambience and resolution way beyond the limits of an embedded sound card.
* When using the AK70 as a USB DAC, its PEQ settings are not applied, and output up to 24bit, 96kHz is supported.
* DSD 64/128 is converted via DSD-to-PCM for playback.


The AK70 can allow users to rip CDs with ease by linking with the AK CD-RIPPER.
By inheriting from the AK500N, it supports the CD track error correction feature and the meta data (ID3TAG) auto input feature using Gracenote's database without any change.
* The AK CD-RIPPER may not be properly recognized when using a power supply adapter rated at less than 5V 2A.

The AK70's Network - AK Connect

The AK70 comes equipped with the AK Connect feature that can be connected with network-ready Astell&Kern devices.

It is also appointed with wireless networking DLNA (Ver. 1.0), which makes it easy to work with NAS/PC on the same network and through an AK Connect app supporting smartphone/tablet computer.

DMP (Digital Media Player)
Finds a list of content on a media server for selection and playback.

DMC (Digital Media Controller)
Finds a list of content on a media server and establishes a connection to a playback-capable device (renderer). By default, a DMC establishes a connection between a media server and media renderer and controls content playback-related operations.

DMS (Digital Media Server = Network Server)
Actually stores the media content to be shared. When connected to a network, the DMS transmits/distributes the media content for other devices to stream or download.

DMR (Digital Media Renderer = Network Player)
Connects to a media server via media controller for content playback.

The AK70 supports the Groovers app.

You can stream MQS in real time in any place where network is available and download conveniently with easy-to-make payments.
You can also enjoy high-quality music through Groovers' streaming service.


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Additional Info


General Specifications
Model  AK70
Body Color  Misty Mint
Body Material  Aluminum
Display  3.3inch WVGA (480 x 800) TFT LCD
Supported Audio Formats  WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE(Normal, High, Fast), AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF
Sample Rate  FLAC, WAV, ALAC, AIFF : 8kHz ~ 192kHz (8/16/24bits per Sample), DSD : DSD64, Stereo / DSD128, Stereo 
Output Level

Unbalance 2.3Vrms / Balance 2.3Vrms (Condition No Load)

DAC  Cirrus Logic CS4398 x1 (Single DAC)
Decoding  Support up to 24bit / 192kHz Bit to Bit Decoding
Input USB Micro-B input (for charging & data transfer (PC & MAC)) / Connection Mode : MTP (Media Device)
Outputs  PHONES (3.5mm) / Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported) 
Wi-Fi  802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)
Bluetooth  V4.0 (A2DP, AVRCP, aptX)
Dimensions  2.37 ”(60.3 mm) [W] x 3.81 ”(96.8 mm) [H] x 0.51 ”(13 mm) [D]
Weight  4.66 oz (132 g)
Feature Enhancements  Firmware upgrades supported (OTA)
Audio Performance
Frequency Response  ±0.075dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalance & Balance ±0.56dB (Condition: 10Hz~70kHz) Unbalance / ±0.55dB (Condition: 10Hz~70kHz) Balance
Signal to Noise Ratio   116dB @ 1kHz, Unbalance / 116dB @ 1kHz, Balance
Body Material  Aluminum
Crosstalk  130dB @ 1kHz, Unbalance / 130dB @ 1kHz, Balance
Supported Audio Formats  WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE(Normal, High, Fast), AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF
THD+N  0.0008% @ 1kHz, Unbalance / 0.0007% @ 1kHz, Balance

Unbalance 2.3Vrms / Balance 2.3Vrms (Condition No Load)

Output Impedance  Balanced out 2.5mm (1ohm) / PHONES 3.5mm (2ohm)


AK70 Update (headphones)Review by Gary
I finally got an adaptor for my Sennheiser HD600. They were amazing. Very smooth, rich and clear. They were more detailed than the Sony 7506's. Very smooth. The 600's are running at 300 ohms, however, and I found they were reaching the AK70's limit. I am listening to the Sony's around 110-120 on the volume. The Sennheiser's were reaching their limit of around 140-145 out of a volume max of 150 on the AK70's. So I was wrong in my first review on "a little higher than the Sony's" before I had my adaptor, and I was not sure of the impedance. I just wanted to be sure and test the HD600's for readers of my first review. The AK is perfect for 32ohms. But the amp is getting a work out for a 300 ohm headphone. Hope that helps. I have 100 hours on the unit now and I am extremely happy with the musical experience that the AK70 and the Sony 7506 deliver together. (Posted on 2/16/2017)
Astell & Kerns AK70Review by Gary
This is my first Hi-Rez DAP. I am not a reviewer, but I do know music in an audiophile format. I probably have over 20,000 hours of listening experience and tuned ears. I have been using an iPod Classic for 15 years before the last 3 dumped. This was my last one. After weeks of research I took a chance on the AK70. There were no reviews to refer to, since I made my purchase August 1, 2016, except for the AK100, AK120 and the Jr. I do know processors and decided on the Cirrus Logic instead of the Wolfson. I wanted a DAP within my price range and also the best quality I could achieve for the money. I did not make a mistake. I usually like to read some reviews before a purchase, but researching the net, blogs and talking with Drew from Moon Audio, I took the plunge.
The AK70 needs break-in, and I knew it. I downloaded all my Hi Rez audio files to the internal drive and my entire AIFF 16 bit/44.1k files to a SanDisk 200 gig card. I was very impressed with the AK70's ability to switch between the card and internal drive. I was concerned there would be a delay or having to switch modes to capture between the two. The switching was flawless. It is all automatic. Boot up time is around 45 seconds before start up. I have 130 gigs of data. I imagine it continues to load up on the fly. But before I can hit play, it’s 45 seconds.
The first 5 hours were a little better than my iPod, no worry, I knew there would be congestion and there was. There was mininum air, stage, transparency and emotion using the Sony MDR7506's Studio Headsets. The sound was even a little brighter with my Westone W2's. I am a sound engineer, so I am use the way 24/96 and 16/44.1 imaging and panning within the soundstage should sound and their placement, especially after listening to a particular song 50 times or so. BE PATIENT. I did not do a continuous break-in, but usually listened 5 hours a day.
After 10-15 hours I could hear the AK70 dialing in. The congestion and bright sound was disappearing. The lows were coming in and highs were extending. The battery life was even improving.
After 25 hours, I was starting to hear the accuracy of tones, timing and harmonics. The instruments had their own air developing around them now. Panning within the stage was becoming more precise. I was always blown away from hour one with the silent background. Floornoise=SILENCE! No hiss, or electronic haze, nothing except dead silence, which certainly adds to the clarity and air. I left all settings off, except “repeat all”. I would from time to time switch back and forth between the EQ flat (off) and “pro eq” (on). Not much of a difference now after 25 hours. So I leave the EQ off. Flat response is where I listen to all my music. EQ adjustments are made for room acoustics and bad headsets. I have yet to sit down and listen to the AK70 through my reference Sennheiser HD600’s. I am anxious to plug them in. But I have my 600’s paired with the Stefan Audio Art cables, which are ¼ male end, so I need an adaptor to 3.5 mm. I’ll wait until full break-in. There is plenty of power for the Sony’s. I am listening around 100-110 as opposed to 80-90 with the Westones. I have yet to run out of battery life. I would guess I could get 10 hours with my 32 ohm phones of continuous play. The HD600’s should get the same as the Sonys, maybe a hair less. The Westones would maybe go up 10%. Don’t forget I have all my settings off and just let my music play. I will skip songs from time to time, however the backlight will stay off, so no battery drain from the display.
I modified an iPod Classic case with the belt clip and use that to carry my AK70. Just needed a steady hand and a new, sharp exacto knife blade to make the mods on the case to fit the AK70 layout. I could not afford the case for the AK70 after my initial investment. The buttons are easy to get to. Lifting up my front cover, I can slip my finger to the upper left and feel for the large knob to adjust volume with one finger. You can cut off the cover it might make getting to the volume knob a little easier; however, I like the added display protection. The skip and pause buttons are on the right. The cut out for usb was already present. The fit is a little tight, but will stretch out in time. I never take the unit out of the case. The AK70 within the case is just slightly warm. Very slight. The green color doesn’t bother me in the least; actually I like it, because it separates the AK70 from the other black and silver units out there. I do not notice the corners, since my unit is in a Classic case. I don’t think they would bother me even if it weren’t in a case.
The quality of the sound is becoming exciting and I am hearing a difference now each time I turn it on. After 150 hours or so, the AK70 will sound amazing. I am extremely happy now. If Apple didn’t discontinue the Classic, I wouldn’t know what I was missing. By Far.
With the AK70, as of 25 hours, bad recordings will sound fair, good recordings will sound great and great recordings will sound incredible. I am still missing the extreme extension on the top end. Also the mid bass is not quite there and the midrange does not have that last bit of bloom and delicasy. The low bass has not tighened up yet. But I know they will slowly make their appearance. Compared to my Classic…there is no comparison. Not even close. Even if the quality of my AK70 stopped here I would be an extremely satified listener. The Classic was $249.00 and the AK70 is $600.00. Considering AK70 is 4-6 times the quality, in my opinion, as it sits now from my old Classic, this is a no brainer.
The music is clean and clear on the AK70. It’s like a cotton sheet has been removed from the phones on the Classic.
The features are well thought out and user friendly. Downloads are drag and drop. Very easy. With AIFF, all the art and lyrics are present. Never had lyrics before, even though I do not read them, they are there with the push of a button. I would suggest you only purchase from an authorized dealer. There are a lot of retailers out there selling Astell & Kerns for roughly the same price and you will have no warrantee. Check with AK for authorized dealers. That’s why I purchased mine from Drew, and he also helped me with all my questions.
I leave my mode in “songs”. When I turn off the unit, charge it, whatever, when I turn it back on it starts right where it left off. Having 2300 songs, that is a major plus, I wouldn’t want to re-cue my last song and figure out which title was last played. It just starts playing at last cue. Sometimes, as I am going through the unit for the first time, I will find a duplicate song next to each other, usually from a greatest hits or a compilation CD, it takes 30 seconds to find which duplicate I want to delete, push a couple buttons on the display, and it’s gone. Very nice.
40 hours have now presented more missing dynamics, clarity, air, micro-dynamics and providing rich and detailed sound into the music. I can now hear a lot more into the music. The vocals are sounding very rich, clean and clear with more air and bloom throughout the range. The reverb and delay is extending within the vocals, and instrument PRAT and tails are extending. The high hat and purcussion details are pronounced. The stage is separating nicely. I can hear every instrument easily with silence between each note. I especially notice the tone quality on my guitars, bass, keys, drums, shakers and chimes. The effects, compression snap, delay tails have resolution, and accuracy. There is a pronounced sense of speed on my reverb tail decays. Michael Hedges’ guitar and body slaps have richness, clarity, accurate harmonics and accurate decay. It sounds like his guitar is supposed to. I have never heard his guitar sound like this before, in a huge way on the Classic. On all songs I am hearing missing musical artifacts, clarity, rich and full sound, speed of harmonics, timing and air around the instruments in the soundstage I have never heard before through my Classic. Bass is deep, fast and rich. There is no congestion, all music is spread out over the stage, and panned accurately. Piano is rich, dynamic with incredible overtones that are affected accurately. Whether being fast or slow decay, I can start to hear it. The mid bass is taking its time, but it is there blending and tightening, although a little light. Us mix engineers have a problems around 425-475Hz, with muddy presence. There is no mud. This is a critical frequency area to clean up the mid bass. I would like a little more presence, but it will come. The midrange is absolutely glorious. It’s tight, and very smooth without being bright or overwhelming within the mix. It is just right. The high extention is coming along just right. I really can’t tell you the extent because I can’t hear past 15k. It’s an age thing. But if all I have heard is consistant throughtout the frequency range with the rich and dynamic sound within my hearing range, it’s probably there. Don’t forget I am reviewing the AK70 on Sony 7506’s, not your audiophile quality set of headphones. These phones my vocalists use for monitoring during recording. But with the AK70, they sound very good. So you all who are using HiFi Man, Senns, Oppo and compatible phones, I am confident you will be amazed. The Sony’s are not quite up to my standards, they are not too accurate and have a slight coloration of brightness. So this says a lot. These are the phones I walk, shop and drive with. I have had a chance to read a couple reviews now and I totally concure with their findings except the volume knob; mine is tight and has accurate increments. There is no sloppy feel. I have been working on this review since August 5, 2016.
60 hours, the midbass now is stronger and more accurate. The high extremes are more present, and I can hear what I was missing before. YES!! I am getting full, rich, dynamic music and not much missing throughout the entire frequency range. If I were to to define the best enjoyment I get with the AK 70, it would be the full and rich tonal quality from the instruments within the soundstage and the separation of instruments in an airy, non congested, distinct stage, and image to the max. At cold start up it sounds fantastic, if it’s like most my gear, for serious listening give it one hour to warm up. But I am listening while multi tasking, so I do not notice to much. This is a fantastic DAP. No hestiation on my purchase. Hope it lasts forever.
Highly Recommended. Astell & Kerns did it right. I am very happy with my purchase. No mistake for my ears. And the best is yet to come after complete burnin. This will probably be a very popular DAP. I have always liked the Cirrus Logic…Love it. Incredible processor. Most of my gear has the Cirrus Logic or Burr Browns in them. Again, the AK70 does need some breakin, so be patient. All componets need breakin; I don’t care what anyone says about it. Scream all you want, I know. I have done it enough. All speakers, cables, processors, digital sources, and amps take time to sound their best. The AK 70 is no exception, but well worth the wait. Love this unit.
I do not think anyone will be disappointed with the AK70 in this price range.
FIVE STARS out of FIVE STARS!!!!! (Posted on 2/16/2017)

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