I’ve had this rig for more than a year now and I have not even had to use a “hard reset” even once…not one hiccup, just drag and drop files (Hi-rez or 16Bit/44.1kHz) on to the SD cards either directly via USB to player or put the Sandisk SDXC cards into the included adapter for computer card readers and dump many GB of data very quickly. For a few months I even used manipulated code firmware for the AK100, which was hacked by this kind developer from Russia on one of the forums because it added a gapless feature, better GUI (General User Interface), and more volume via the internal amp (it even sounded clearer)…this guy did it months sooner than Astel & Kern.
Now the official AK100 firmware has all of these features. Again another glaring example where the “underground” / “open source” movement forces a large company to get there act together and put out the options for the player that they want. That is not a dig at Astel and Kern as it sounds, I think they were releasing updates slowly to make sure there were not major problems on a large scale with their code. Astel & Kern is a great DAP maker, expensive but great. With all that said I would not advise anyone to instal unofficial firmware if they do not know what they are doing because you could brick your unit. This actually happened to some AK100 users on Head-fi and they could have had their warranties voided by Astel and Kern but A & K were nice enough to fix the units for free…now that’s customer service.
One last thing these and other DAP units are known to not be noobie user friendly in the sense that you have to have a little technical know how to get everything up and running (for ex. different formatting of the memory cards and “Hard and Soft Resets”) and if you hit a snag go social to fix a hangup. This is what the “Pono Ecosystem” is trying to eliminate a more seamless user experience and a tight GUI. Further if your a coming from the Apple Ecosystem these units are not as playlist friendly as the Ipod / Iphone / android/ Windows and Itunes and this is a deal-breaker for many…just like “gapless” is essential to me if you listen to albums like Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side Of The Moon” or any album with no breaks between songs. Some of the other players that one can consider in this category that work well but all have their ups and downs are models like the X3/X5 from Fiio, the Ibasso DX series, and the HiFiMan HM-901. Finally be aware that if you have power hungry or high impedance “cans” you may need to strap a small headphone amp to your portable player in order to fully power the headphones correctly. Happy listening!
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