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Astell & Kern 100 vs. 120


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So I'm in the market for a new portable player as my smartphone just isn't cutting it. I've read a lot of reviews on Amazon, Stereophile, and other sites about various brands and all seem to point to A&K as the top of the line. They are of course also the most expensive which isn't all that surprising. But something is troubling to me after doing some research. The AK's I mentioned both use the Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC. The main difference between the two units (according to A&K's own website) is that one uses a single DAC and one uses two. But the price point for this difference is about $800. Granted they have different chassis, different logic boards inside, etc. But the main feature / spec used by their own marketing department is dual-DAC versus single. While I can't dispute the aural differences between that fact (because I have neither in front of me), I can call foul on one point: The chip they are using to almost double the price costs them less than $5 according to the Cirrus website:

 

Cirrus Logic Launches Advanced, Cost-Effective Audio Digital-to-Analog Converter Solution

 

So I am just curious how A&K can justify this? Also now that I'm thinking about it, why does the AK100II cost so much? Maybe the Pono isn't so bad after all? Designed by Ayre? How bad could it be? Are we just being scammed by A&K?

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