Music is so accessible these days, I can load up an obscure B -side from a long disbanded 70’s prog rock outfit in seconds. Now don’t get me wrong this is great, but with this accessibility we’ve forgotten about quality.

As the old saying goes never judge a music player by how it looks (I’m pretty sure that’s a saying, right?) The AK120 is small and beautiful, but packs a punch like Mohammad Ali in ’74. I loaded mine with everything from iTunes MP3’s to High-Res tracks to CD’s burnt in FLAC, the device can handle them all and it even ‘upgrades’ your MP3’s to make them sound that much better.

It’s best moments are with high quality audio, I burnt the Bright Eye’s albums ‘I’m Wide Awake it’s Morning’ and ‘Digital Ash in a Digital Urn’ and they’ve never sounded so good. You could hear little complexities you might have missed first time round like the slight creaking of the guitar wood in ‘Train Under Water’ , or the little synth line under the harp at the end of ‘Devil in the Details’.

A couple of days later I was faced with the terror of a long cramped train journey back home after visiting friends, so I fired up the AK120 and worked my way through Beck’s ‘Sea Change’ album (purchased through I was transported away from Seat 57 Coach M where my knees touched the seat in front, directly to an LA soundstage where Beck’s band were running through the songs right in front of me. (Well almost, unfortunately when I opened my eyes we were in a slightly grubby part of North London). But genuinely it sounded as close to live music being performed in front of you as you can get through headphones, I’ve listened to that album thousands of times, but never with the joy of that session.

I’ve now loaded almost all of my collection and there’s space for more, as the AK120 comes with additional SD card slots, so you can have a huge personal library at your finger tips without needing to worry if those HQ files are taking up too much space.

Don’t get me wrong the immediacy of streaming is brilliant, but when music is this good it needs the quality treatment. Just in the same way ‘Life Of Pi’ is wasted on an iphone screen, great music

📸 Sony NEX-5R

🎵 Beck // Bright Eyes // Ryan Adams