iriver has debuted a $700 portable audio device capable of mastering quality sound (MQS) playback.
MQS can best be described as sound or music files saved as a lossless format, straight from the studio mastering source.
"Because less data is lost during the digital mastering process and the sound quality is distortion-free, a dramatic difference from the 24-bit source data from MQS files and CD (WAV)/MP3s can be heard and felt," explained iriver CEO Henry Park.
"MQS files are often in 24bit WAV or FLAC formats. With the encoding process in the AK100 MQS Portable System, MQS music and sounds are more refined and pure."
Indeed, MQS is considered as the last phase of sound produced in mastering studios and uses ultra-high resolution sound quality (24 bit, 192 kHz). As such, MQS provides the highest digital music without distortion and loss through sampling (sampling rate) and quantization (bit resolution).
"A four minute song in the MQS source format takes about 200 MB of memory space and in a typical Compact Disc (CD), gets down sampled to 16 bit, 44.1 kHz that takes up about 40MB," said Park.
"Lossy compression digital music files, such as MP3s, take up about 6 to 7 MB. MQS provides high-resolution music that represents a rich, spacious, detailed, and dynamic sound that cannot be replicated from a MP3 or a CD."
The iriver Astell & Kern player is loaded with 32GB of internal memory and can be expanded via two microSD card slots, each supporting an additional 32GB microSD card.
As expected, the iriver AK100 is fully compatible with FLAC, WAV, WMA, MP3, Ogg, and APE audio files. Its 2,000 mAH battery provides up to 16 hours of playback on a single charge. Additional specs include a micro-USB port, optical in/out and headphone out.
While $700 may seem like somewhat of an excessive price tag for an audio player, the iriver AK100 is clearly aimed at audiophiles rather than the mainstream iPod crowd.