Astell&Kern AK Jr
The AK Jr.’s slender physique is Astell&Kern gone Lite n Easy. You don’t need a spec sheet to tell you this is their thinnest and lightest player to date... The volume pot’s relocation to Junior’s underbelly is an ingenious move.
On the scales the AK Jr. weighs in at 93g – almost half that of the AK100 II. The upshot is Junior can ride in a shirt breast pocket without issue. You can’t say that about the second-generation AK120/AK100 and (especially not) the AK240. You can’t say that about the now discontinued first generation models either. You can’t even say that about the 130g Pono Player...
The layout of the AK Jr’s interface is Astell&Kern’s most organised and intuitive to date... we note a return to drag and drop file loading. Rejoice!
With full-sized portable ‘phones, the AK Jr. sounded terrific... Not three years ago such portable audio satisfaction would have been unthinkable... The AK Jr. comes on zippy and clean, their most transient-energetic voicing to date.
...the AK Jr. sounds better than each of the mass-market devices I own. I hear better separation, clarity and frequency extension than the iPad 2, Google Nexus 5, Samsung Galaxy S5 and iPod Touch 5G. No contest...
With this portable also deployable as a USB DAC it’s worth noting that it dumps on your average PC’s headphone output from quite the height, thus exposing the computer’s on-board sound card for the fifty-cent part that it is.
...the headline written by the AK Jr. for newcomers contemplating their first DAP is not to be missed: it’ll sound way better than your existing smartphone and compatible computer. If you’ve already dropped cash on a nice pair of headphones and are contemplating “What’s next?” the Astell&Kern AK Jr. will bring them to life at home, on public transport and at work.