Disclaimer: Mezzo HiFi modded my AK100 free of charge. The mod goes for 500$ USD. You can find all about it here: MS-AK100 mezzo soprano.
Consider this article a happy follow-up to the 'dud' MS-AK100 RMAA results I just posted. The results below describe the unit I originally reviewed at Headfonia. They describe a DAP which largely outperforms the AK240, and which, in many metrics, stays toe-to-toe with the 3500$ USD AK380.
If only dud units didn't exist, this article stands as proof that Mezzo HiFi's mods are worth every penny. If only there wasn't reason to doubt that your unit is one of the chosen perfects. If only...
Still, the below should inspire confidence in what is possible from the now venerable AK100.
The following Rightmark Audio Analyzer tests were conducted through this equipment.
Source: Mezzo HiFi MS-AK100 (500$ USD)
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$).
NL - no load
SM2 - Earsonics SM2
ES7 - Audio Technica ES7
DT880 - Beyerdynamic DT880/600
24-bit TARGETS and loads
24-bit TARGET - no load
A perfect DAP does not exist. No DAP sustains signal to load as well as it sustains signal when unloaded. That said, a Mezzo HiFi modded AK100 has the chance to perform with the best DAPs out there. At any price. But as I showed earlier, not all MS-AK100s are created equal. The unit I reviewed at Headfonia performed similarly to the one in this article, which means that it was phenomenal. Note that at maxxed volume levels (at which I test each unit unless otherwise indicated and equalised to iPhone 4s max levels), even a properly modded MS-AK100 isn't able to hold signal perfectly into an Audio Technica ES7.
That said, it remains my pick among performance DAPs.