Astell&Kern AK Jr review

The premier arm of iRiver has released an entry-level hi-res audio player that supports a staggering amount of audio formats, albeit with a skinny feature set. Jr’s bigger brothers are impressive, so there’s a lot riding on the smallest A&K.

If we could judge this player by looks alone it’d get five shiny, refined stars. While the case’s corners are a little pointy, this slab of aluminium and glass embarrasses other designer-tech thanks to its simplicity and beauty.

Astell&Kern - AK Jr - (10)There’s a lot of merit in physical controls, and both the buttons and volume dial are easy to find and use — clicking and rolling actual buttons after touch screen controls feels remarkably satisfying. The volume dial is lovely, and provides a long, smooth transition from dead silence up to an imposing decibel level.

Sound quality is spectacular, and you can throw a massive variety of audio files at the Jr. If you’re going to take advantage of hi-res audio you’ll need headphones that are geared up for the task, else the gains from this hardware compared to a major smartphone manufacturer will be minimal.

64GB of storage is built in, with a microSD expansion slot that’ll let you add another 64GB — lots of space for monstrous 40MB-plus lossless files.

Astell&Kern - AK Jr - (12)Here comes the but. The touchscreen and UI are infuriatingly slow, enough to ruin the experience. ‘Functional’ would put it kindly, in the same way a shopping trolley is a functional mode of transport.

And, there’s something funky happening in the firmware, as trying to skip  backwards to previous songs is trial and error — most of the time the song will just restart, over and over.

The Jr will suit if you’re busting for a portable hi-res player, but it comes with some infuriating compromises.

Price: $699
From: BusiSoft AV

Rating: 2.5 stars out of 5

  • I liked the game, but i didn’t like that I basically had no shot against most guys who had been playing 6 months more, and honestly no shot of catching up to their skills.

  • don t

    At first, I was thrilled. The Akjr sounded impressive. But my joy turned to dissapointment very quickly. Even with the 1.03 firmware, the user interface was horribly frustrating. Then my bluetooth failed. It wouldn’t connect to any of my devices. Afyer a call to A&K, they informed me that my bluetooth issues would improve after I update the Jr with the 1.03 firmware. I informed her that I had already done that. So she said well we’ve had issues with bad bluetooth antennas so send it to us and we’ll fix it. After paying what I did, I just returned it to Amazon, paid more money and got the onkyo dp x1. Its been great. No wonder it’s the highest rated dap on the market. Steer clear of the A&kjr.