Disclaimer: I was lent the AK70 MKII for a recent photoshoot. I had no time to load my music onto it, tinker around with its interface, or even put ears on it. I had time to load RMAA and square waves on it and test its single-ended output.
Note: this post has been edited for grammar.
RMAA: Astell&Kern AK70 24-bit
RMAA: Astell&Kern XB10 24-bit
RMAA: MS-AK100 24-bit new
RMAA: Astell&Kern AK380 24-bit
Review: Astell & Kern AK XB10 – You are the original
Review: Astell & Kern AK70 – AK’s best yet
Review: Astell & Kern AK380 – Momentary
Astell & Kern AK Jr – Who You Calling Junior?
I love the AK70 MKII’s new volume pot. I dig its new lines. I dig the new accents. I’m not ecstatic about its measured performance, especially when compared back to back with that of its predecessor. I can confirm that the AK70 MKII gets just as loud, that its boot up screen is smooth, and that, like its predecessor, its signal is cleanest at a setting of 136, where stereo crosstalk - which at full volume tops out around -87 dB - breaks the minus 100dB barrier. Of course, the MKI measures -118dB without load, and -75dB connected to an Earsonics SM2. A further 12 decibels is nothing to scoff at. But that, as far as I can tell, that is the only improvement the MKII brings.
Its performance is decent, though generally regressive. This is especially true when driving loads similar to the Audio Technica ES7. Shame. Just as much a shame is the fact that I didn’t get enough time to also measure its balanced out.
NOTE: it is possible that the unit I borrowed was a lemon. But I was warned by a person whose opinion I value that the MKII is regressive in comparison to its predecessor.
Source: Your Next Premium, AK70 MKII
ADC: Lynx Studio HILO LT-TB
Computer: 2012 27" iMac
Cables: 1,5m Hosa Pro 3,5mm stereo to dual 3-pin XLR (around 8$); bespoke y-split 2,5 TRRS to dual 3-pin XLR made by Musashi Sound Technology.
NL - no load
SM2 - Earsonics SM2
ES7 - Audio Technica ES7
DT880 - Beyerdynamic DT880/600
24-bit single ended VOL 149 @+6dB - all targets
24-bit single ended VOL 149 @+6dB - NL Summary
Before measuring the AK70 MKII, I too the necessary steps to ensure that everything was A-Okay. I calibrated my ADC to within acceptable outlier results, comparing ad-hoc results to those stored for my trusty Ryuzoh-modded AK70 MKI. So, I am confident that in the broadest terms, the AK70 MKII performs worse than its predecessor. Who knows, at the ear it may sound good. I may - I hope - hiss less than MKI, but until I have ears on it, hope is all I have.
In the past I’ve been vocal, critical, and perhaps brutally honest as regards certain Astell&Kern products. But by the time 2016 rolled around, things had started to change. Today, the AK70 MKI is a personal favourite. I even love the original AK100 as a modification platform. I love the AKT8iE MKII and the XB10. In the last two years Astell&Kern have impressed me.
And then there's this.