The Astell&Kern AK100 MQS Portable Player Trumps Pono
While we're waiting for 2013 and Neil Young to reveal all of the facts about his Pono player/service that appears to be based on a proprietary file format, Korea's Iriver has come to market with a portable player that supports good old-fashioned 24/192 files. The Astell&Kern AK100 MQS Portable System ($699) features a Wolfsen WM8740 24-bit DAC and 32GB of internal memory and can accommodate two 32GB MicroSDHC cards for total storage capacity of 96GB. The MQS Player supports WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG and APE formats (no AAC or Apple Lossless support) and sports a 2.4″ LCD IPS color screen and Bluetooth 3.0 with A2DP/HFP and is about the size of a deck of cards (3.11 by 2.33 by 0.57 inches and weighs 4.30 ounces). There are optical audio outputs to connect to your DAC of choice, a micro USB port for charging and syncing media, a 5-band equalizer, and of course a 3.5mm headphone jack.
The Astell&Kern is the ultimate portable high-fidelity audio system capable of studio mastering quality sound (MQS). Feel the phenomenal realism of music though 24bit/192kHz high-resolution, lossless Mastering Quality Sound (MQS) that cannot be heard on a CD.
When compared to CDs, the music files used during the mastering process in studios
(24bit/192kHz) contains 6.5 times more information and results in a more original,
precise and enhanced sound.
If things were only always just like that picture....There are other like-devices out there including the HiFiMAN HM-801 player ($790 w/32GB SDHC card) that can handle up to 24/96 files but the Astell&Kern MQS Portable Player has raised the bar with its 192kHz capability.
You can read more about the Astell&Kern MQS Portable Player here.