Here’s a thing.
A+K have produced a true Class A portable amp to improve their DAPs, and it appears other marques too. Not a DAC/Amp. Just an amp.
The brief review…what a brilliant device! Has had me revisiting my music and various headphone combinations over the last week. Worth every one of the £550.
The long review.
Used it with my A+K Kann Alpha DAP, ZMF Verite closed, Grado GR10e and Grado RS1e. Then with my old and rather unloved Fiio M9 plus the same.
It lifts the performance of all combinations in a way I would describe as a class change… Not just the harder-to-drive pairings, or the better performing A+K.
The overwhelming benefit is control, clarity and a beautifully layered and integrated sound. No over-riding character as such, the combinations still seemed to retain their essential sound (the RS1e lively mid range, the fairly lush Verite etc) but every component just felt to be working to its full potential and moved up a class-yes that good. The trebles are open and clear, bass extension maybe less altered but far more nuanced and detailed. The Crossfeed switch provided is also really nice, making the soundstage slightly less defined left/right which works for me. It has two gain levels and three Current options. This makes subtle changes that I am not sure are terribly essential, perhaps a bit more dynamic at the higher settings but a bit less natural?
The effect on the Fiio M9 was no less than on the A+K Kann Alpha. Not elevated to the high-end but better in every department.
Downsides. It is a heavy angular slab. Not exactly portable with a DAP of any size. Battery life is quoted at 12hrs. It certainly took a while to charge but lacks a battery life indicator. It would also be nice if they provided a 4.4mm balanced link cable as this is apparently the best option. I have used it with the 3.5mm link provided.
I guess the question would be how it may benefit the really high-end DAPs from various manufacturers but it is certainly a keeper for me.
There is a nice review at Headfonia but haven’t seen anything else. Interested to hear if anyonbe has been tempted.