iriver AK100 plays high-res music anywhere

The Astell & Kern AK100 offers high-resolution music on-the-go, as audiophiles bang the drum for lossless digital formats

iriver, confusingly under the branding of Astell & Kern has unveiled a portable music player that will have audiophiles solemnly nodding their heads in delight.

The company explains that typical digital music files, like those downloaded from iTunes, are so compressed you may as well be listening through a tin can and string. The portable iriver AK100 is designed to play songs in their full glory, wherever you are.

It is compatible with ‘Mastering Quality Sound’ (MQS) files, a 24-bit/192kHz lossless format recorded straight from the mastering desk. It’s the next best thing to sitting in the artist’s lap, cooing.

A four minute MQS file is about five times larger than the equivalent track on a CD, and 29 times larger than an MP3. The extra space means you can hear the trill of every timpani.

As for the AK100 player itself, it has 32GB internal storage, which can be expanded using two microSD slots. Although primarily a portable music player, it can output its sweet sounds to a home hi-fi. The AK100 costs £569 from high-end audio shops.

Air Audio Distribution is not alone in obsessing about the best possible sound. Crazy horseman Neil Young is so fixated on the unlistenable state of digital music, he plans to launch his own lossless service later this year.

Named Pono, it will cover everything from a 24/192k download store to bright yellow pocket players, and promises to “rescue an artform.” Young claims to have signed up the ‘big three’ music labels: Universal, Sony and Warner.

Thus with a new generation of lossless music, audiophiles can finally listen to Nicki Minaj’s Starships the way it was meant to be heard.

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