AK380 Copper review
By Rudi0504.




 I have a long history of owning Astell & Kern products.
Such as:

Ak 100 mk 1 Final Audio Design Edition.

Ak 100 mk 1 Gold Japan Edition.
Ak 100 mk 2 Blue LE japan edition.
Ak 100 II.
Ak 240 ss.
Ak 380 copper.

I base my findings and conclusions on the above and also comparisons to other TOTL 

DAPs I mention later in the review.


Build.


The build of the AK380 copper edition is as any Astell & Kern device, a well tooled and finished piece of perfect design.

The weight is more than previous AK devices due to the material employed (about 350g).
It feels solid when resting in ones palm.
The body is machined from a full solid block of copper over four hours.

Quite an engineering marvel!







Sound.

The sound of the AK380 echoes much of what has gone before within the AK line of Daps. This although still being part of the AK380 series it does have its own particular signature sound revealed by sessions of critical listening.

My earlier initial impressions:
Source:
AK 380 Copper
IEM:
Fit Ear MH 334 custom
Out the Box Sound Quality compared with the standard AK 380 :
High:
On Par with the standard AK 380 with better rendering and more natural sounding highs and smoother.
Mids:
They are cleaner and has better pronounce, sweeter and more natural vocals.
Bass:
Very clean, deep and more accurate sounding bass.
The bass quality is the best from all the AK DAPs I ever heard up to now.
Separation :
Is better in that the individual music instruments placement is more accurate.
Soundstage :
More 3D, like as in a big concert hall.
Background :
The best black background I have ever heard on a Portable DAP.

So far I am surprised what the AK 380 Copper can produce, its their best sound quality in a DAP to date.

Further more recent thoughts and impressions.

I have listened to the AK380 Copper that I own and have also shared it at several meets to gather other peoples opinions to check and verify my own impressions.

Highs:
Better detail and clearer rendering than the previous Daps in the AK380 series.

Mids:
They are sweeter when compared to the original AK380 and vocals are cleaner.

Bass:
The lower end has more impact, it comes across as tight, detailed and with a fast response.

Separation:
The separation of the music, vocals etc is excellent. As is to be expected.

The Soundstage:
It could be akin to a large concert hall. Expansive.




Features.

32/384 kHz playback.
DSD 256 native.
(AKM) AK4490 DAC.
Graphic EQ.
Compatible with the AK accessories such as the extension cradle, amplifier, CD ripper (all not included).
WAV, FLAC, MP3, WMA, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF all supported.



Included items: microUSB cable, leather case, screen protective sheet x2, back protective sheet × 2, microSD card slot cover x2, quick start guide, warranty card (body one year / accessories 90 days), Attention statement.

For full spec details see here:

Value.
I think it performs well within the hierarchy of TOTL Daps.


I compared the AK380 Copper to my Top Of The Line Daps as follows:
The music genres used:
Jazz
Classical
Audiophile songs
Mandarin Audiophile songs.


Below is my order of preference when it comes to TOTL Daps:
1st Place:
AK 380 Copper.
2nd Place:
AK 380 Duralium.
3rd Place:
AK 240 ss
4th Place:
Lotoo Paw Gold.
5th Place:
AK 240 Duralium.

IEMs used:
Fit Ear MH 335 DW Studio Reference.






review by Rudi0504.






*Proof reading, editing: expatinjapan.



Time to loosen up the Chord & Major 6/Ballad and 8/Rock version in ears prior to commencing the review process.
The orange boots are an essential part of the process!






The First time I have compared my Top Of The Line Daps as follows:
By Music genre :
Jazz
Classical
Audioohile songs
Mandarin Audiophile songs
Below are my Preference Daps :
1st Place :
AK 380 Copper
2nd Place :
AK 380 Duralium
3rd Place :
AK 240 ss
4th Place :
Lotoo Paw Gold
5th Place :
AK 240 Duralium
Iems :
Fit Ear MH 335 DW Studio Reference
Imho
-Rudi0504












Source :
AK 380 Copper
Iem :
Dita Truth Gold Trrs Edition


FiiO M3
-A simple review for a simple player by expatinjapan.



I was chatting with the people from FiiO as I was republishing their article on the history of FiiO
http://headpie.blogspot.jp/2016/01/fiios-foundations-brief-history-of-fiio.html
(FiiO is currently finishing writing the article covering the period 2011-2016).
My greedy self was murmuring in my brain `request a FiiO X7 for review! Do it` - but my heart told me to request the FiiO M3 and EX1 earphones.

FiiO EX1 earphones.

Why?

Well I thought of people looking for an entry level and affordable set up, or something they could use at the gym or exercising. An everymans set up or rig so to speak.
Forums and Facebook are full of TOTL rigs, DAP, IEMs and the like these days, where is something for the little guy I thought. Thats when I decided to request the two items as a possible set (To come later).

FiiO graciously acquiesced.

I think most people are familiar with FiiO and their ascent from the little guy to a major player on the portable audio scene. From the early days of affordable portable amps, to dac/amps and then on to cables and eventually entering the world of DAPs they now seem to have produced one for everyones price point with the arrival of the M3.

Build.
The Fiio M3 is the smallest in size within the range of FiiO players. It is very lightweight and fits well within the palm of ones hand or slipped into a pocket of meagre size.
I am sure it has been build robust enough to last, but due to its size and casing of plastic one would not stomp ones foot upon it of course.
The screen brightness could do with some tweaking to enable more steps to allow it to be more brighter.
Packaging is beautiful as usual with FiiO.






Sound.
Is this what most people care about? Usually. One has to take many things into account whilst summarizing the sound. comparing it to other devices, using several varying ear/headphones, different genres of music and always checking the volume.
Also price point, does it fit well within its price point? does it underperform or over perform?
Measurements also have their place, unfortunately as of yet we at Head Pie are not that advanced and with have to reply on our poor brains and ears.

In short the M3 performs well within its price point as I keep mentioning.
 I would describe it as being on the warm side, sound wise.  It plays music with a fairly smooth finish, probably due to the M3 not having an extended treble or extreme detail of more expensive players.
Is it listenable? pleasurable, good enough? I would say yes.

Fiio M3 with the ATH-ESW11. Volume at 36.
Listening to:
Mazzy Star -`Fade into you`. The sound is rich, warm and lush. Vocals are creamy and not too forward of the music.
The Cardigans- `Erase and rewind`. The bass hits hard enough and full, no flabbiness.
Soundstage is acceptable. enough treble to please.
Rammstein -`Du hast`. Rough and ready. Lacking some of the polish on more pricey Daps,..a bit congested at times. but that is to be expected. Still and enjoyment to listen to.
Peter, Bjorn and John -`Young Folks`. A good track for checking treble and mens and womens vocals. fairly smooth and rounded.
Morrissey -`Every day is like Sunday`. Bass a bit flat, vocals very Morrissey, music has a nice dynamism to it.

Although of course not in the same league as mid or high end players, and not wanting to shoot it down or hype it up. The FiiO M3 player is a great purchase. It has a musicality to it. Track playback whilst not being perfect to the original, less soundstage and dynamics etc ...it does perform very well within the under $100 section.



Features.
The FiiO M3 being the youngest sibling within the family of FiiO players has perhaps a more minimalistic UI, admittedly I did spend time trying to use it as a touch screen device until I finally saw my error and realized that everything is button operated.
My bad.
Once one gets started it is a fairly easy UI to use.
Loading music is simple as a drag and drop process.
Updating the software is also hassle free.

Memory: 8GB built in.
Supports memory cards of up to 64GB. (It has been reported that 128GB cards work).
Output power: 50mW into 16ohms.
DAC: CL42L51 Cirrus logic.
Battery life: 24 hours.
Output impedance 0.4 ohms.
Five band Equalizer.
Up to 24/96 support.
Measurements posted online show a fairly flat response and well balanced on the L/R channels.






The FiiO M3 comes with some earbuds and a USB charge/ data transfer cable, a manual in several languages, lanyard and extra screen protectors.

Value.
FiiOs M3 player is a gift within its price point. One definitely can`t complain at the price.
It delivers what it says it will and makes no claim to be anything other than a simple budget player.
Generally priced at around US$55.

Overall.
The FiiO M3 is a great choice for many types of users, the light traveler, the gym goer or jogger, the commuter desiring a lightweight option and of course the budget conscious shopper.
Adding music and upgrading the Firmware is simple and hassle free.
The UI doesnt take much time at all to master, whilst not Apple grade is easy enough to get the hang of within a short period of time.
Sound whilst not in the high end range as can be expected at the price, the actual experience is well within acceptable realms.





Build:well designed, fairly seamless and robust.
Sound: Quite acceptable and listenable within its price point.
Features: Simple yet functional UI with many useful and needed options.
Value: One can`t complain at $55 for what you get with the magnificent M3.
Overall: It ticks all the right boxes for a product at this price.


Thank you again to FiiO for supplying Head Pie with the M3 for review.
-expatinjapan.






Fiio M3 latest firmware.
FiiO are well known for rolling out regular updates to fix any shortcomings or bugs on their players.


Official firmware version FW1.7 for the M3 is now available!
Download link:  https://www.dropbox.com/s/apvzvbcr7v8v2ij/M3%20FW1.7.zip
After downloading the file, please expand (unZIP) the zip archive and read "Instructions for updating the M3's firmware" contained within.
The following changes and improvements were made to FW1.7 compared to FW1.5:
1. Added a new UI theme (theme 2);
2. Added options to clear the "favorites", "Playlist1" and "Playlist2" playlists, and to delete individual songs from each playlist;
3. Added "Screen off button response" option in System Settings, to customize the response to the front 6 buttons when screen is off:
a) Direct action (default)--pressing one of the front buttons performs the action of the button directly without turning on the screen;
b) Screen wakeup only--turns on the screen without performing the action of the button (until a second press);
c) Wake+action--turns on the screen at the same time as performing the action of the button;
4. Language selection screen now appears immediately after firmware update / factory reset, before the library scan;
5. Fixed issues with playing certain mp3 files;
6. Fixed issue where switching from an APE High-compression encoded track to other tracks could cause noise to be emitted;
7. Fixed issue where if the M3 is turned off and then plugged in for charging, it turns itself back on when unplugged;
8. Fixed issue where battery icon does not stay lit onscreen even when screen timeout is set to ON (no timeout);
9. Fixed issue where the Hold button does not prevent button response under certain situations;
10. Corrected certain dialog language and fixed other miscellaneous bugs.



Soon we will update to a new custom Template thanks to my friend Tom.

We will have navigation buttons 'home, review, interview, photos' etc and links to our Facebook and Twitter feeds to name a few improvements.

Oh and a more user friendly layout.


I`m loving my new little friend : Aurvana in ear 2



Ubsound - The Dreamer and The Fighter.

Review to follow.