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The iRiver AK100 High Res Player

Just when you thought the world of high performance personal audio couldn’t get any more crowded, with a plethora of great DAC’s and headphone amplifiers, iRiver released the AK100 music player.

It plays FLAC files and has the new Wolfson WM8740 DAC chip under the hood – allowing playback of up to 24bit/192khz files.

For those not of the nerd intelligentsia, suffice to say the AK100 is a major jump in performance over the iPod or for that matter anything else you’ve got in your pocket to play music. Initial response to the AK100 is good.  It’s wonderful to load some HD Tracks files and some DVD-a rips that can be enjoyed on the go.

But the fricking thing costs $700.  Awesome or insanity?  So just how good is the AK 100? As Pee Wee Herman said in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, “Some questions get answered, other questions pop up.”

We’ll do our best to uncover the rocks in the road, if any, and we will also explore the modded AK100 from Red Wine Audio, that promises to take this portable player even further.  Vinni Rossi’s iMod for the iPod has proved fantastic, and I still use the one he modded for me years ago.

And what about PONO, the new high resolution player that is the brainchild of Meridian Audio and Neil Young?  When it comes to high quality digital, don’t rule out Bob Stuart (ceo of Meridian) he’s a rock star in his own right.

Those are the questions we will answer in the weeks to come as we put the AK100 through its paces with as many top quality headphones as we can get our hands on, and use it as a source component in everything from a desktop system to a half million dollar hifi system.

Stay tuned for more, and feel free to comment here and on our facebook page.