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Astell&Kern

Astell&Kern and Campfire Audio PATHFINDER collaboration redefines the hybrid in-ear monitor with the world’s first dual-chamber driver technology

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, has teamed up with Campfire Audio, a U.S. designer and manufacturer of premium hand-built earphones, to introduce the PATHFINDER in-ear monitor (IEM). Following the successful SOLARIS X collaboration, the all-new jointly developed PATHFINDER takes hybrid IEM design to another level. These sophisticated earphones feature advanced Dual-Chamber Balanced Armature (BA) Driver technology to reach new heights in audio realism.

Astell&Kern PATHFINDER key features at a glance:

  • The world’s first Dual-Diaphragm Mid-Focused Balanced Armature (BA) Driver from Knowles results in a more natural reproduction in the key mid-range area.
  • Dual Balanced Armature drivers deliver extended and smoother high-frequency sounds
  • Custom-designed dual dynamic drivers with a hybrid diaphragm focus on low-end and mid-range frequencies
  • The first earphones to employ Campfire Audio’s new Radial Venting Technology for dynamic drivers to deliver more powerful bass and a larger soundstage.
  • Boasts all-new ribbon design; Silver-Plated OFC copper Litz cables minimize signal distortion
  • Features robust custom Beryllium Copper MMCX connectors for superior connection

World’s First Dual-Diaphragm Mid-Focused Balanced Armature (BA) Driver

A radical new driver design was needed to achieve a wider frequency range, realistic reproduction, and a more balanced sound. At the heart of this innovative new driver assembly is the all-new Dual-Diaphragm Balance Armature Driver from Knowles. By employing a single-coil operating two individual diaphragms, the design is akin to the twin-cylinder engine – delivering more horsepower and smoother operation than one with a single, larger piston.

Compared to a traditional BA model with a single, larger diaphragm, this all-new design incorporates two chambers, each housing its own diaphragm and drive rod actuated by a single coil. The result is a higher, more powerful output for its size than any other BA driver design while expressing a warmer and more natural mid-range in key areas of the music.

Dual BA drivers featuring T.A.E.C. technology

Further custom-dual BA drivers focus on delivering clearer and more precise high-frequency reproduction. Benefitting from Campfire Audio’s patented Tuned Acoustic Expansion Chamber technology (T.A.E.C.) technology, this design optimizes the performance by adjusting the volume of space available in front of the driver and provides a direct passage from the driver to your ear.  This clever design extends high frequencies without sibilance or fatigue, delivering unsurpassed clarity and a smooth top end.

Dual custom dynamic drivers featuring Radial Venting Technology

Delivery of the rich and visceral bass sounds, while bringing greater definition to the lower midrange, arrives courtesy of dual-custom dynamic 10mm drivers. Boasting hybrid diaphragms and housed in a Radial Venting Acoustic Chamber 3D printed acoustic chamber, this all-new design by Campfire Audio, creates a faster and more powerful low-frequency response without unnecessary pressure or bass bloat. Each dynamic driver is vented through a specially designed opening located at the face of the driver. This acoustic chamber dramatically improves the expression of the drivers, and creates a larger soundstage, while preserving the unique sound of the dynamic driver.

3D-printed acoustic optimised construction

Campfire Audio’s high-end earphones are highly acclaimed by audiophiles around the globe, so it’s no wonder the attention to detail is key to delivering superior musical experience from the PATHFINDER. Each earphone integrates a 3D-printed, acoustically optimised interior chamber to enable the drivers to deliver the highest audio quality possible and create a natural and accurate sound.

Silver-Plated Copper Litz Cable design

PATHFINDER comes with three different flavoured cables to cover all unbalanced and balanced headphones connections (2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm.) The all-new Silver-Plated Copper Litz Cable consists of four conductors arranged side by side, designed to provide the most transparent and extended sounds possible. The soft-touch molded jacket that wraps around each conductor ensures both flexibility and durability.  At the same time, a flat cable design prevents tangling, can be wound for easy storage and offers minimal cable distortion. The cable terminates with a robust metal connector housing.      

Elsewhere, the custom beryllium/copper MMCX connectors provide more resilience against wear and tear, compared to regular brass connectors, while also offering a more robust mating mechanism. This harder material selection extends the life of the component and the earphone.

Comprehensive eartip selection

Along with the three types of headphone cables, PATHFINDER arrives with an array of eartip types and sizes so finding a secure and comfortable fit is simple. Included are five pairs of Final Audio E-Type tips (XS/S/M/L/XL), three pairs of Campfire Audio Marshmallow Tips (S/M/L), and three pairs of silicone tips (S/M/L). To keep your IEMs and accessories in pristine condition while in transit, a leather zip case, earphone protection sleeve, and a tip and cable storage pouch are also supplied.

Premium design philosophies

The brushed stainless steel-hewn inlay on PATHFINDER combines the two design philosophies of each company. Astell&Kern’s ‘light and shadow’ recognisable motif is present and correct, while Campfire Audio’s connection with nature is represented by this six-sided ‘Mountain Peak’ contour. Precision engineered, this design motif displays the value of the premium craftsmanship and innovation that Campfire Audio and Astell&Kern are renowned.

The Astell&Kern Pathfinder is priced £1,899 / $1,900 / €2,199 and available from mid-July 2022 from  www.astellkern.co.uk

Technical Specifications

Transducer type: 

  • [High] Custom Dual Balanced Armature Drivers + T.A.E.C.
  • [Mid] All-New ‘Dual Chamber’ Balanced Armature Driver Technology from Knowles
  • [Mid-Low to Sub-Bass] All-New Dual Custom 10mm Dynamic Drivers paired with Radial Venting Technology

Cable:

  • 2.5mm Silver Plated Copper Cable
  • 3.5mm Silver Plated Copper Cable
  • 4.4mm Silver Plated Copper Cable

Material / Design:

  • Aluminum shell
  • Hand polished stainless steel threaded spout
  • Stainless steel Inlay and Parts

Frequency response: 5Hz-20kHz

SPL: 94dB @ 1kHz 13.49mVrms

Impedance: 6.2 Ohm @ 1kHz

Total harmonic distortion: Less than 1%

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Astell&Kern’s new KANN MAX high-resolution digital audio player achieves a higher power output in a more compact design

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, reveals the KANN MAX portable digital audio player (DAP), the 4th model in its acclaimed KANN series. Adored by audiophiles all over the world for its performance focused on high output and ultra-clear sound, the KANN MAX achieves a higher power output (15Vrms) than its award-winning predecessor, theKANN ALPHA.

By applying advanced design and audio technology, this newfound power is also housed in a more compact and lightweight chassis. The result is an even wider variety of headphones, including sophisticated high impedance models, can be optimally driven without the need for additional amplification. Music fans can experience the original studio-quality sound without compromise – anywhere, anytime.

Astell&Kern KANN MAX key features at a glance:

  • Features 4-step gain level with maximum 15Vrms output to support a wider variety of headphones without distortion
  • Innovative circuit design with ultra-high output and low noise in an even smaller-sized player
  • Equipped with ESS ES9038Q2M Quad-DAC for exceptionally clear and balanced sound
  • Features proprietary TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution technology
  • Supports playback of high-resolution digital audio files up to 32-bit 768 kHz/Native DSD512
  • Bluetooth 5.0 and 24-bit wireless codec (aptX™ HD, LDAC) support
  • Replay Gain function uniformly adjusts volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit/192 kHz.

Innovative circuit design = low noise levels

As the power output increases, so does the noise level that adversely effects the audio performance. Through innovative integrated circuit design, Astell&Kern is able to achieve a low noise-level while hitting the new 15Vrms ‘Super’ output setting.

First, an analogue volume controller is applied to deliver a rich dynamic range without any loss. Next, the power supply integrated circuit for each audio section (divided into DAC, volume, and amp) is separately configured so the interference ripple noise caused by the DC-DC power supply (the shaking noise phenomenon that occurs when power is supplied) is removed. Audio noise that can be heard amplified like audio sound in the operational amp is also minimised. Lastly, by dividing a printed circuit board (PCB) the same size as the larger KANN ALPHA into 12 layers, the smaller physical size of the KANN MAX is achieved.

Quad DAC and playback

The KANN MAX is the first player in the KANN series to be equipped with four ES9038Q2M DACs for a high-output performance. By employing Quad DACs – one DAC can each be fully allocated to four individual amp channels – the depth and realism of the sound source can be expressed to the fullest.

Combined with Astell&Kern’s amplifier circuit technology that naturally and delicately raises the strengths of the DAC, its precise decoding capabilities delivers the original studio-quality sound without distortion.

The KANN MAX also plays files up to 32-bit/768kHz PCM and native DSD512, while supporting 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm headphones connections for accommodating a greater variety of headphones and in-ear monitors (IEM). In order to minimise contact noise from the output jacks, a gold PVD coating method is applied to the headphone connector instead of the typical rings employed by other products. This improves both design and function.

The KANN MAX also adds Replay Gain functionality to the mix. This automatically and uniformly adjusts volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit/192 kHz so playlists can be enjoyed throughout without reaching for the volume.

KANN MAX featuring TERATON ALPHA technology

The result of extensive research and development, Astell&Kern’s patented TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution is designed to deliver audio playback close to the original sound.  It effectively removes power noise and provides efficient power consumption and amplification right through to the audio output interface stage where the digital-to-analogue signal conversion (DAC) takes place – audio technology Astell&Kern has consistently developed and perfected over the years.

Connectivity

A BT Sink function connects the KANN MAX to an external device, such as a smartphone, via Bluetooth, enabling music to be played back in high-quality on the player. Elsewhere the KANN MAX boasts Bluetooth® 5.0, providing greater range and a more stable wireless connection to headphones and, along with support for 24-bit aptX™ HD and LDAC codecs, offers the best possible wireless sound quality.

Alongside Wi-Fi support, the KANN MAX features AK File Drop for easier wireless file transfers. Users can wirelessly transfer files through a PC, smartphone, or FTP program located on the same network to make music management even more convenient.

Battery and storage

Although smaller in size, all power-related components and the power circuit been developed to achieve 13 hours of continuous playback. The KANN MAX harbours 64GB on-board memory that can be expanded up to 1TB via a microSD card slot, meaning users can carry thousands of hi-res albums with them at all times.

Powerful streamlined design

Continuing the bold design concept of the KANN series, this player boasts a more streamline profile, emphasised by the hexagonal top line that narrows sharply from the bottom up, and the hairline treatment on the back that expresses both a sense of speed and power.

The Astell&Kern KANN MAX is priced £1,199 / $1,300 / €1,499 and is available mid-June 2022 from www.astellkern.co.uk

The Astell&Kern KANN MAX cases come in three colours: black, blue and beige, priced £109 / $110 / €129 and are mid-June 2022 from www.astellkern.co.uk

General Specifications

Body Colour: Anthracite Gray

Body Material: Aluminium

Display: 4.1-inch, 720 x 1280 touch screen

Supported Audio Formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF

Sample Rate:

  • PCM: 8kHz ~ 768kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample)
  • DSD Native: DSD64 (1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128 (1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256 (1bit 11.2MHz)
  • DSD512(1bit, 22.4MHz) Stereo

Output Level:

  • [Low] Unbalanced 2Vrms / Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load),
  • [Mid] Unbalanced 4Vrms / Balanced 8Vrms (Condition No Load),
  • [High] Unbalanced 6Vrms / Balanced 12Vrms (Condition No Load),
  • [Super] Unbalanced 8Vrms / Balanced 15Vrms (Condition No Load)

CPU: Quad-core

DAC: ESS ES9038Q2M x4 (Quad-DAC)

Decoding: Supports up to 32-bit/768kHz Bit-to-Bit Playback

Input: USB Type-C input (for charging & PC & MAC)

Outputs:

  • Unbalanced Out (3.5mm), Optical Out (3.5mm)
  • Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported | 4.4m, only 5-pole supported)

Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)

Bluetooth: V5.0 (A2DP, AVRCP, Qualcomm® aptX™ HD, LDAC)

Dimensions: 2.68-inches (68.3mm)[W] x 4.6-inches (117mm)[H] x 0.92-inches (23.6mm)[D]

Weight: about 10.76oz (305g)

Feature Enhancements: Firmware upgrade supported (OTA)

Audio specifications*

Frequency Response:

  • ±0.023dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.026dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) –
  • Balanced
±0.035dB (Condition:20Hz~70kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.072dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced

S/N:

  • 114dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • 115dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

Crosstalk:

  • -124dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • -135dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

THD+N:

  • 0.0003% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • 0.0004% @ 1kHz, Balanced

IMD SMPTE:

  • 0.0007% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Unbalanced
  • 0.0007% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Balanced

Output Impedance:

  • Unbalanced Out 3.5mm (1ohm)
  • Balanced Out 2.5mm (1.6ohm), 4.4mm (1.6ohm)

Clock Jitter: 25ps (Typ)

Reference Clock Jitter: 70ps

*Audio specifications based on Low Gain.

Storage capacity

Built-in Memory: 64GB [NAND]

External Memory: microSD x1 (Max. 1TB)

Battery

Capacity: 5,600mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer

Charge Time: about 3.5 hours (9V 1.67A Fast Charging) | 5.5hours (5V 2A General Charging)

Playback Time: about 13 hours (Standard: FLAC, 16bit, 44.1kHz, Unbalanced, Vol.40, LCD Off, LED On, Low Gain)

Supported OS: Windows 7,8,10(32/64bit) MAC OS X 10.7

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Astell&Kern’s new SEM4 DAC module for the A&futura SE180 music player features upsampling technology for an enhanced sonic performance

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, introduces the SEM4 DAC module for its award-winning A&futura SE180 digital audio player (DAP). The fourth module in the series, this dual-DAC is the first to feature Digital Audio Remaster (DAR) upsampling technology, enhancing the sample rate of the audio source so music fans can get closer to the analogue-like original sound.

The A&futura SE180, an IF Design Award Winner 2022 and the first Astell&Kern player to boast interchangeable all-in-one DAC modules, allows music fans to customise their sound with different audio-flavoured DACs to find the hi-fi-grade sonics that suit them.

Astell&Kern SEM4 DAC module key features at a glance:

  • Equipped with an Asahi Kasei AK4493SEQ dual DAC for more natural playback
  • Specially developed Digital Audio Remaster (DAR) upsampling technology enhances sample rate and sound quality up to a maximum PCM rate of 384 kHz/DSD256
  • Features proprietary TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution technology
  • Supports play of up to 32-bit 768 kHz/Native DSD512 high-resolution digital audio files
  • Low-power consumption design provides 14 hours of playback

Introducing Digital Audio Remaster (DAR)

Specially developed for the SEM4, DAR upsamples the sound source up to a maximum PCM sample rate of 384 kHz/DSD256. Whatever file you are playing, the SEM4 will convert to a higher sample rate that suits the source. The result will be a more refined and richer sonic performance, revealing detail and nuances in your favourite music otherwise unheard.

The SEM4 Digital Audio Remaster upsampling guide:

Maximum upsampling PCM rate:

  • 44.1kHz range PCM will be converted to 352.8kHz for playback
  • 48kHz range PCM will be converted to 384kHz for playback
  • No conversion will be made when playing DSD with this option selected

Maximum DSD upsampling rate:

  • PCM files lower than 96kHz will be converted to DSD128 for playback 
  • PCM files over 96kHz will be converted to DSD256 for playback 
  • DSD files below DSD256 will be converted to DSD256 for playback with this option selected

Asahi Kasei AK4493SEQ dual DAC with VELVET SOUND™  

The SEM4 is the first Astell&Kern product to be equipped with a premium dual AK4493SEQ DAC from Asahi Kasei. Featuring VELVET SOUND™ technology, this DAC aims to deliver a more natural audio with even lower noise and distortion, along with a wider dynamic range. Carefully selected advanced switch and capacitor components allows the low-power consumption design to provide a stunning low-noise playback performance of up to 14 hours – the longest among SE180 modules.

SEM4 featuring TERATON ALPHA technology

The result of extensive research and development, Astell&Kern’s patented TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution is designed to deliver audio playback close to the original sound.  It effectively removes power noise and provides efficient power consumption and amplification right through to the audio output interface stage where the digital-to-analogue signal conversion (DAC) takes place – audio technology Astell&Kern has consistently developed and perfected over the years.

Meet the Astell&Kern A&futura SE180 DAC Module Family

The SEM4 is the fourth in a series of DAC modules exclusively designed for the premium Astell&Kern A&futura SE180 portable digital audio player. Each DAC module offers different sonic characteristics to suit the music you love. All modules support 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm headphones connections for accommodating a greater variety of headphones and in-ear monitors (IEM)

  • SEM1 ESS ES9038PRO (supplied with the SE180 player)
  • SEM2 Asahi Kasei AK4497EQ Dual DAC
  • SEM3 ESS ES9038Q2M Quad DAC
  • SEM4 Asahi Kasei AK4493SEQ Dual DAC

The optional Astell&Kern SEM4 DAC (Asahi Kasei AK4493SEQ Dual DAC Module) is priced £369 / $400 / €429 and will be available from May from www.astellkern.co.uk

The Astell&Kern A&futura SE180 (with SEM1 ESS ES9038PRO DAC module) is priced £1,399 / $1,499 / €1,599 and is available now from www.astellkern.co.uk

Technical Specifications

Body Material: Aluminum, Stainless Steel, Polycarbonate

Body Colour: Moon Silver

Sample Rate:

  • PCM: 8kHz ~ 768kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample)
  • DSD Native: DSD64(1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128(1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo
  • DSD256(1bit 11.2MHz), Stereo / DSD512(1bit 22.4MHz), Stereo

Outputs: Unbalanced Out (3.5mm), Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported / 4.4m, only 5-pole supported)

Output Level:

  • [Normal Gain] Unbalanced 2Vrms / Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load)
  • [High Gain] Unbalanced 3Vrms / Balanced 6Vrms (Condition No Load)

DAC: AKM AK4493SEQ x 2 (Dual DAC)

Decoding: Support up to 32bit / 768kHz Bit-to-Bit playback

Dimensions: 3.03″(77mm)[W] x 2.99″(76mm)[H] x 0.78″(19.9mm)[D]

Weight: 90g (3.17oz)

Playback Time: about 14hours (Standard: FLAC, 16bit, 44.1kHz, Unbalanced, Vol.50, LCD Off)

Audio Specifications

Frequency Response:

  • ±0.09dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.04dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Balanced
  • ±0.65dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.65dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced

S/N:

  • [Normal Gain] 121dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 121dB @ 1kHz, Balanced
  • [High Gain] 125dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 125dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

Crosstalk

  • [Normal Gain] -134dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / -138dB @ 1kHz, Balanced
  • [High Gain] -135dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / -143dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

THD+N

  • [Normal Gain] 0.0003% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 0.0004% @ 1kHz, Balanced
  • [High Gain] 0.0005% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 0.0006% @ 1kHz, Balanced

IMD SMPTE: 0.0003%, 800Hz 10kHz (4:1), Unbalanced / 0.0003%, 800Hz 10kHz (4:1), Balanced

Output Impedance: 3.5mm (1ohm) / 2.5mm (1.5ohm) / 4.4mm (1.5ohm)

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Astell&Kern’s AK UW100 debut true wireless earbuds are primed for an immersive best-in-class hi-fi grade sound

March 25th, 2022 UK Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium high-resolution audio devices presents its debut set of true wireless earbuds, the AK UW100. Faithful to the company’s philosophy of delivering sound reproduction that is close to the original as possible, these earphones build on Astell&Kern’s audio technology expertise to deliver a class-leading, truly wireless hi-fi-grade sound.

The AK UW100’s superior sonic credentials are endorsed by a dedicated high performance 32-bit DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter), support for the latest high quality wireless connectivity options aptX™ Adaptive and Bluetooth 5.2, alongside ultra-detailed Knowles Balanced Armature drivers.

Astell&Kern AK UW100’s key features at a glance:

  • Dedicated, high performance 32-bit hi-fi grade DAC.
  • aptX™ Adaptive wireless codec for low latency and support for 24-bit audio quality.
  • Features Bluetooth 5.2 wireless technology for a more stable connection.
  • Knowles Balanced Armature drivers deliver ultra-detailed sound.
  • Best-in-class passive noise isolation (PNI) with ambient mode.
  • Battery: 6 hours playback, 18 hours from the case (24 hours total).
  • Case supports wireless and fast charging.
  • Touch controls and voice assistant support for easy control on-the-move.
  • Proprietary iOS and Android app for customisation.

Dedicated DAC

In many true wireless headphones, the DAC (Digital-to-Analogue Converter) is integrated into the Bluetooth chipset, with its fundamental physical limitations focused on lower power consumption rather than improving sound quality. With its separate and dedicated AK4332, 32-bit high-performance DAC, working in tandem with Astell&Kern’s proprietary AMP technology employed in its award-winning DAPs (Digital Audio Players), the AK UW100 is geared for a clearer, more accurate and dynamic audio performance.

Typically used in more premium IEMs the AK UW100 features Knowles Balanced Armature drivers, chosen over the more common dynamic driver type for its ultra-detailed performance, to deliver a realistic and distortion-free audio across all genres of music.

Latest wireless technology

To realise the AK UW100 leading wireless performance, the next gen, high-quality aptX™ Adaptive codec is supported, expertly adjusting the bite rate according to the wireless environment it is operating to reduce latency issues (it supports up to 24-bit audio at a bit rate of 420kps). Support for the latest Bluetooth 5.2 provides greater range and a more stable wireless connection when streaming from a compatible device such as an Astell&Kern portable digital audio player, smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Furthermore, anyone using a smartphone running Qualcomm True Wireless Stereo Plus will enjoy a more robust connection between both earbuds and the compatible device, seamless pairing between both earbuds and reduce power consumption.

Best in-class passive noise isolation

With an ergonomic and lightweight earbud design developed through countless simulations, the AK UW100 offers best-in-class passive noise isolation (PNI) to enable a truly immersive experience when listening to music in clamorous environments. Unlike generic Active Noise Cancellation that concentrates on blocking out low-frequency noise, PNI efficiently minimises unwanted ambient noise in the mid and high range.

If the user wants to hear outside sounds, just a single tap of the left earbud will activate ambient mode, with the ability to easily switch between the four ambient levels using the earbud’s touch controls or via the app.

Intuitive touch controls

For easy control on-the-move, the AK UW100 sports responsive touch controls for commands such as play, pause, skip track, volume adjustment, activating Ambient mode, answering calls and enabling voice assistant from a compatible device. A proprietary iOS and Android app also allows users to customise touch controls, ambient levels and various EQ settings. The AK UK100 also supports voice control via Apple Siri, Google Assistant. Tap the left earbud three times to activate your smartphone’s voice assistant function. Control music playback, make phone calls and more powerful smartphone functions with your voice.

Music for 24 hours

With the earbuds boasting six hours of battery life and a further 18 hours via the case (24 hours in total) users can enjoy music all day. With the convenience of wireless charging supported, the AK UW100 charging case also features fast charging, with a 10-minute charge providing an hour of playback.

Crystal-clear voice calls

A dual mic set-up integrates a Voice Communication Package (VCP) from voice application specialist Alango, to provide crystal-clear voice call quality. Based on special Acoustic Echo-Canceller and Noise-Suppressor technologies, these wireless earbuds effectively reduce noise in a variety of settings and environments, always ensuring call stability.

Signature design

Sporting an angular, almost Deco motif with a pentagon shape to fit snugly in the ear, the AK UW100 continues Astell&Kern’s signature and recognisable ‘light and shadow’ design language.

Alongside the charging case, the AK UW100 comes supplied with a choice of five different sized silicone ear tips (XS, S, M, L, XL) and a USB-C charging cable.

The Astell&Kern AK UW100 is priced £249 / $260 / €299 and will be available from April 2022 from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Driver type: Knowles Balanced Armature

DAC: AKM AK4332ECB

Bluetooth Version: 5.2

Bluetooth Codec: SBC, AAC, aptX™ Adaptive

Bluetooth Profile: HFP, A2DP, AVRCP

Sound Pressure Level (SPL): 94dB (1m@1kHz)

Earbud Control: Capacitive Touch

Sensor: Proximity Sensor

Microphone: 2-mic /per earbud

Playback Time: Approx.6hrs (Total 24hrs)

USB: C Type for charging

Wireless Charging: Yes (third party wireless charging accessory required)

Control App: Android and iOS version

Voice control: Support for Apple Siri and Google Assistant

Firmware Upgrade: OTA (Over-The-Air)

Weight:

  • Earbuds: approx. 7g
  • Charging Case: approx. 65g

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Head-Fi Hero: Astell&Kern ACRO CA1000 redefines the headphone amplifier with digital audio player capabilities

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium high-resolution audio devices has redefined the headphone amplifier with the introduction of the ACRO CA1000. Expertly combining high-performance amplifiers with digital audio player (DAP) capabilities in an incredibly compact desktop and carriable-friendly form, the powerful ACRO CA1000 delivers the optimal performance from any type of wired headphone. An array of digital/analogue inputs and outputs also ensures the ACRO CA1000 can be at the heart of any hi-fi set-up and become the ultimate system for head-fi fans. This system represents Astell&Kern’s fundamental philosophy of delivering as close to the original sound as possible and enriching the listening experience.

Astell&Kern ACRO CA1000 key features at a glance:

  • Powerful headphone amplifier with digital audio player capabilities.
  • Features a four step Gain Level that drives high impedance headphones with a 15Vrms output or below.
  • Features 3.5mm, 6.35mm unbalanced, and 2.5mm 4.4mm balanced headphone output to handle a wide variety of headphones.
  • An array of digital/analogue inputs and outputs ensures it can at the heart of any hi-fi set-up.
  • Onboard ESS ES9068AS Quad-DAC delivers a clear, detailed and balanced sound.
  • Supports high-resolution audio playback up native DSD512 and 32bit/384 kHz.
  • Crossfeed reduces listening fatigue by creating a more natural sound akin to listening to speakers.
  • Boasts Astell&Kern’s patented TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution technology.
  • A 4.1-inch, 720 x 1280px touchscreen tilts up to 60 degrees for easy control.
  • Support for Bluetooth® 5.0 provides greater range and a more stable wireless connection.
  • Support for 24-bit aptX™ HD and LDAC codecs, offers the best possible wireless sound quality.
  • Built-in battery provides up to 10.5 hours playback.

Headphone amp

To realise any hidden potential and run the most sophisticated and power-hungry headphones a dedicated amplifier is essential. The ACROCA1000 supports a four-step Gain Level setting that can run high-impedance headphones with a 15Vrms (Condition No Load) output level – without deterioration of sound quality.

Equipped with balanced 2.5mm and 4.4mm and unbalanced 3.5mm and 6.35mm outputs, the ACRO CA1000 can accommodate a wide variety of headphones. Using ultra-small relay parts, circuits for each output are physically separated from each other to minimise any internal noise interference that can adversely affect the quality of the signal and sound.

DAC magic

A digital-to analogue converter (DAC) contributes majorly to how close to the original recording the listener will experience. With a pedigree of designing and engineering award-winning premium DAPs Astell&Kern knowledge of DAC technology is unprecedented. The ACRO CA1000 arrives with a high-quality, high-performance Quad ES9068AS DAC that delivers a clear, detailed and balanced sound without distortion. The Quad-DAC also supports high-resolution audio playback up native DSD512 and 32bit/384 kHz, enabling the music fan to get even closer to the original studio sound, while revealing musical details never heard before.

First introduced in the A&futura SE180 DAP, the ACRO CA1000 features Astell&Kern’s patented TERATON ALPHA technology. The result of extensive research and development, this sound solution is designed to deliver audio playback close to the original sound through the audio output interface by use of effective power noise removal, efficient power management and amplification with minimal distortion.

The speaker effect with headphones

In a headphone environment where the left and right channels are clearly separated, ear fatigue can increase when listening over long periods. Activate the Crossfeed function and a more comfortable listening experience is revealed. This mode has the effect of blending the left and right channels, relieving ear fatigue by creating a more natural sound akin to listening to speakers. In this setting Shelf Cutoff, Shelf Gain, and Mixer Levels are adjustable according to listening tastes.

DAP credentials

More than just a powerful headphone amp, the ACRO CA1000 also features DAP capabilities, transforming it into the go-to-system for head-fi aficionados. A titling 4.1-inch touchscreen (up to 60-degrees) enables easy control of the player and amp settings with an intuitive Android OS and feature set taken from its award-winning portable DAPs.

Although not entirely mobile as an Astell&Kern DAP, this amp player hybrid system is compact and portable. Equipped with an 8,400mAh large capacity battery, the ACRO CA1000 can provide up

to 10.5 hours playback without a separate power supply. This headphone amp also supports USB-PD 2.0 (9V/3A) fast charging, so anyone with a charger that supports USB Power Delivery (USB-PD) can experience improved charging times – a one hour charge provides 50% battery, while it takes 2.5 hours for a full charge. A green light on the CA1000 will indicate when USB-PD fast charging is active.

An array of inputs and outputs allows connection of digital and analogue sources to expand the systems capabilities. These include Optical, Coaxial, Type-C USB digital inputs/outputs and RCA analog input/output.

The ACRO CA1000 harbours 256GB on-board memory that can be expanded up to 1TB via a microSD card slot, meaning users can stockpile thousands of hi-res albums. Elsewhere, Replay Gain functionality automatically and uniformly adjusts volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit/192 kHz so playlists can be enjoyed throughout without reaching for the volume.

Connectivity

A BT Sink function connects the ACRO CA1000 to an external device, such as a smartphone, via Bluetooth, enabling music to be played back in high-quality on the headphone amp.

Elsewhere the ACRO CA1000 boasts Bluetooth® 5.0, providing greater range and a more stable wireless connection to headphones and, along with support for 24-bit aptX™ HD and LDAC codecs, offers the best possible wireless sound quality.

Alongside dual-band Wi-Fi support, the ACRO CA1000 features AK File Drop for easier wireless file transfers. Users can wirelessly transfer files through a PC, smartphone, or FTP program located on the same network to make music management even more convenient.

Any ACRO CA1000 owner with a Roon subscription can wireless stream all their high-resolution music, whether from Tidal, Qobuz services or digital music files stored on a hard-drive, computer or NAS drive, from this immersive music platform to the amp.

Out of this world design

The ACRO CA1000’s beautifully engineered aluminum body shape and the prominent and tactile volume wheel design are inspired by rugged space-age exploration vehicles that power across planetary terrain. The system still retains Astell&Kern’s signature angular shadow and light motif to seamless fit into the company’s bold and aspirational design language.

The Astell&Kern ACRO CA1000 is priced £1,999 / $2,100 / €2,299 and is available from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

General specifications

Body Colour: Moon Silver

Body Material: Aluminium

Display: 4.1-inch, 720 x 1280px touch screen

Supported Audio Formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF

Sample rate:

  • PCM: 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample)
  • DSD Native: DSD64(1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128(1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256(1bit 11.2MHz), DSD512(1bit, 22.4MHz) Stereo

Output Level:

Headphone Out

  • [Low] Unbalanced 2Vrms / Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load)
  • [Mid] Unbalanced 4Vrms / Balanced 8Vrms (Condition No Load)
  • [High] Unbalanced 6Vrms / Balanced 12Vrms (Condition No Load)
  • [Super] Unbalanced 8Vrms / Balanced 15Vrms (Condition No Load)

RCA Out

  • 2Vrms (Condition No Load)

CPU: Quad-core

DAC: ESS ES9068AS x4 (Quad-DAC)

Decoding: Support up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit to Bit playback

Headphone Outputs: Unbalanced (3.5mm, 6.35mm) / Balanced (2.5mm, 4.4mm)

Analog Inputs: RCA (Stereo pair) x1

Analog Outputs: RCA (Stereo pair) x1

Digital Inputs: Coaxial x1, Optical x1, USB(Type-C) x1

Digital Outputs: Optical(3.5mm) x1, USB(Type-C) x1

Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)

Bluetooth: V5.0 (A2DP, AVRCP, Qualcomm® aptX™ HD, LDAC)

Dimensions: 4.12″(104.9mm)[W] x 1.77″(45mm)[H] x 5.85″(148.8mm)[D]

Weight: about 919g (32.41oz)

Feature Enhancements: Firmware upgrade supported (OTA)

Audio specifications*

Frequency Response:

  • ±0.024dB (Condition : 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.018dB (Condition : 20Hz~20kHz) Balanced / ±0.048dB (Condition : 20Hz~20kHz) RCA
  • ±0.059dB (Condition : 20Hz~70kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.056dB (Condition : 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced / ±0.048dB (Condition : 20Hz~70kHz) RCA

S/N: 107dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 115dB @ 1kHz, Balanced / 119dB @ 1kHz, RCA

Crosstalk: -105dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / -124dB @ 1kHz, Balanced / -121dB @ 1kHz, RCA

THD+N: 0.005% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced / 0.002% @ 1kHz, Balanced / 0.0004% @ 1kHz, RCA

IMD SMPTE: 0.0008% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Unbalanced / 0.0004% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Balanced /0.0003% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) RCA

Output Impedance: 3.5mm, 6.35mm (1ohm), 2.5mm, 4.4mm (2ohm), RCA (2ohm)

Clock Jitter: 25ps (Typ)

Reference Clock Jitter: 70ps

* Audio specifications will be based on Low Gain setting.

Built-in Memory: 256GB [NAND]

External Memory: microSD x1 (Max. 1TB)

Battery Capacity: 8,400mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer

Charge Time: about 2.5hours (9V / 3A PD2.0 Fast Charging) | 7hours (5V 2A General Charging)

Playback Time: about 10.5hours (Standard: FLAC, 16bit, 44.1kHz, Unbalanced, Vol.40, LCD Off, Low Gain)

Supported OS: Windows 7, 8, 10 (32/64bit), MAC OS X 10.7 and above

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Astell&Kern’s striking ACRO BE100 Bluetooth wireless speaker delivers superior hi-fi grade stereo sound

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium high-resolution audio devices debuts the ACRO BE100 Bluetooth wireless speaker. The result of Astell&Kern’s advances in audio technology evolved over decades, this speaker delivers superior room-filling, hi-fi calibre stereo sound that belies it compact profile. Boasting a dedicated 32-bit DAC and support for the latest 24-bit hi-res quality wireless streaming codecs, the ACRO BE100 is the Bluetooth speaker of choice for audiophiles and music enthusiasts alike.

Astell&Kern ACRO BE100 key features include:

  • Unique light and shadow effect design.
  • Dedicated 32-bit hi-fi grade DAC.
  • Support for 24-bit hi-res codecs aptX™HD and LDAC.
  • Superior stereo sound from a custom 4″ Kevlar woofer and 1.5″ silk dome tweeters.
  • Onboard Class-D amplifier with 55W of total power.
  • Ability to adjust treble and bass sound settings.
  • Arrives in stylish white or black finishes to fit into any interior space.

Design for life

Sporting Astell&Kern’s recognisable signature angled design, influenced by the reflective interplay of shadow and light, the ACRO BE100 makes a striking design statement that can seamlessly fit into any living space. The triangular shapes on front metal-grille mesh compliments the premium faux leather finish of main unit, while the top aluminium-hewn knurling-patterned knob allows accurate fine tuning of the volume, level-by-level, with a gentle touch.

The area below the volume control illuminates and acts as an indicator, flashing different colours for each mode or volume level, helping users to easily identify the speaker status and control it intuitively.

Dedicated DAC

Declaring its hi-fi sound credentials, the BE100 arrives with an onboard 32-bit high-quality DAC (digital-to-analogue converter). Where most common Bluetooth speakers rely on the limited DAC embedded into the Bluetooth chipset, the BE100’s dedicated DAC is based on the technology from Astell&Kern award-winning portable digital audio players. The separate internal circuitry ensures it has the capabilities to deliver a superior and detailed audio performance beyond its rivals.

Stereo sound

To help realise this class-leading sonic performance, the mid/bass driver and 2x tweeters have been custom-built. The 4-inch mid-bass cone is made from ultra-durable yet lightweight Kevlar fabric to improve response speed and timing and provide a more accurate bass sound. Furthermore, the rear port is installed to extend the speaker’s bass response. The two silk dome tweeters produce crystal clear high-frequencies, while sound-absorbing material inside the wooden cabinet reduces resonance by completely sealing the interior, enabling a full, rich fidelity.

Classy amp

Poorly designed amplifiers can produce clipping sounds at maximum volume. Employing its renowned expertise in amp design technology, Astell&Kern has developed a Class-D amplifier that guarantees consistent sound quality without distortion even at top volume.

The amp’s onboard digital crossover also ensures a clear and precisely timed sound by splitting the audio signal into different frequency range. In addition, dynamic range control (DRC) is used to protect the speaker unit as it hits maximum output power. To minimise jitter – the undesired deviation in time from the transmitted signal – the Bluetooth chipset is equipped with a 50ps clock to enable incredibly accurate sound.

High-definition connectivity

The latest high-definition wireless connectivity options are covered with the ACRO BE100 boasting Bluetooth® 5.0, providing greater range and a more stable wireless connection when streaming from a compatible device such as a smartphone, tablet or laptop. Support for 24-bit aptX™ HD (48khz) and LDAC (96khz) codecs, offers the best possible wireless sound quality.

Elsewhere, music fans can tweak the sound with the onboard five-level treble and bass settings, while a 3.5mm AUX input allows the connection of Astell&Kern’s portable digital audio players and similar devices.

Please note a version of the ACRO BE100 featuring FM radio is available in selected countries.

The Astell&Kern ACRO BE100 is priced £449 / €529 / $400 and is available now from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Mid/Bass driver: 1x 4-inch

Tweeter: 2x 1.5-inch

Amplifier output: 55W (1x 25W + 2x 15W)

Frequency response: 50 – 20kHz

Maximum sound level: 94dB SPL@1m

Bluetooth version: 5.0

Bluetooth codecs: SBC, AAC, aptX™HD, LDAC

Power input: 19V / 3,43A

AUX: 3.5mm stereo

Dimensions: 261 x 164 x 171mm

Weight: about 3.2kg

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A&norma SR25 MKII: Astell&Kern unveils the second-generation model of its award-winning, ultra-portable hi-res audio player

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, introduces the second generation model of its popular and award-winning entry-level player, the A&norma SR25 MKII. Every aspect admired about the original SR25 is retained with the new model improving on the audio performance, adding new features, such as a balanced 4.4mm headphone jack, and tweaking its already eye-catching and ultra-compact design. The A&norma SR25 MKII represents the perfect entry-point into Astell&Kern’s unrivalled world of high-resolution music playback on-the-move.

Astell&Kern A&norma SR25 MKII feature upgrades include:

  • Improved sound performance
  • 4.4mm headphone jack to deliver enhanced dynamic range, bass response, wider soundstage, clearer imaging and more detail in the audio source.
  • Replay Gain function to uniformly adjust volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit/192 kHz.
  • AK File Drop for easier wireless file transfers.
  • BT Sink function for simpler connection of the SR25 MKII to an external Bluetooth device
  • Extra internal silver-plated shielding, first seen in the higher-end SP2000T, to protect from electromagnetic interference.
  • New, more defined volume wheel design.
  • New darker and stylish Mercury Dark Silver finish.

Even more balance and detail

This new pocket powerhouse may have a familiar look and feel but it delivers superior sound through Astell&Kern’s latest advanced audio design technology. Presenting more detail than its predecessor, the natural high-resolution sonics deliver clearly defined upper and lower ranges and a deeper, more rounded sound.

The addition of the balanced 4.4mm headphone jack, joining the 2.5mm (balanced) and 3.5mm (unbalanced) outputs, means music fans can connect an even wider variety of headphones, IEM’s and devices. The 4.4mm balanced output provides improved dynamic range and bass response, supports a wider soundstage, while capturing clear imaging and subtle details in the audio source.

As with the first-generation model, the SR25 MII handles an array of high-resolution music formats and sample rates. Support for native playback of DSD256 and 32-bit/384KHz PCM high-resolution audio, brings every music fan closer to hearing the artist’s original studio sound. Should you want to listen to your favourite hi-res music over a wireless connection, the SR25 MKII features the latest high-definition Bluetooth wireless codecs: LDAC and aptX™ HD.

Replay gain

The SR25 MKII also adds Replay Gain functionality to the mix. This automatically and uniformly adjusts volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit/192 kHz so playlists can be enjoyed throughout without reaching for the volume.

Extra connectivity options

First introduced in the A&futura SE180 player, AK File Drop ensure easier wireless file transfers. Users can wirelessly transfer files through a PC, smartphone, or FTP program located on the same network to make music management even more convenient. Secondly, the new BT Sink function connects the SR25 MKII to an external device, such as a smartphone, via Bluetooth, enabling music to be played back in high-quality on the Astell&Kern player.

Added internal protection

Astell&Kern players apply shield cans to eliminate electromagnetic interference caused when internal components are in operation. First introduced in the higher-end A&ultima SP2000T, the SR25MKII has taken further measures by applying highly conductive, hyper-pure silver plating on the existing shield cans for extra defence against these sound performance-effecting disturbances.

Refined design

The SR25 MKII inherits the overall design identity of the original SR25 model, sporting the recognisable angled top and bottom bezel edges to give the impression the smaller inner rectangle is floating freely from the main body. The new look pattern on the side volume wheel is also more defined and tactile, drawing more attention to this area of the player. Lastly, the new darker hue of silver (Mercury D. Silver) stands apart from the original’s Moon Silver livery.

Protect your A&K player

A protective case in a choice of three eye-catching finishes is available to compliment the SR25 MKII and safeguard this premium player from the vagaries of a life on the road. Made from a soft and durable LASKINA® polyurethane fabric from Italy, this memory material offers protection against external shocks and scratches, while providing excellent grip. The fabric also mimics the texture of classic, high-end leather, for a luxurious and vibrant look, including natural leather-style creases and shine. Finishes include Denim Blue, Orange and Black.

The Astell&Kern A&norma SR25 MKII is priced £699 / $749 / €799 and is available now from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

The Astell&Kern A&norma SR25 MKII case is priced £59 / $60 / €69 and is available now from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

General Specifications

Model: SR25 MKII

Body Colour: Mercury Dark Silver

Body Material: Aluminium

Display: 3.6-inch HD 720 x 1280 px touch screen

Supported Audio Formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF, MQA

Sample rate PCM : 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample) DSD Native: DSD64(1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128(1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256(1bit 11.2MHz), Stereo

Output Level: Unbalanced 2Vrms │ Balanced 4Vrms (Condition No Load)

CPU: Quad-core

DAC: Ciruss Logic CS43198 x2 (Dual-DAC)

Decoding: Support up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit to Bit playback

Input: USB Type-C input (for charging & PC & MAC)

Outputs: Unbalanced Out (3.5mm), Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported / 4.4m, only 5-pole supported)

Wi-Fi: 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)

Bluetooth: V4.2 (A2DP, AVRCP, Qualcomm® aptX™ HD, LDAC)

Dimensions: 2.5” (63.5mm)[W] x 4.26” (108.3mm)[H] x 0.63” (16.1mm)[D]

Weight: about 178g (6.27oz)

Firmware upgrade supported (OTA)

Operating Temperature: 0℃ ~ + 40℃ (32℉~ 104℉)

Audio performance

Frequency Response

  • ±0.014dB (Condition : 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced │ ±0.011dB (Condition : 20Hz~20kHz) Balanced
  • ±0.010dB (Condition : 20Hz~70kHz) Unbalanced │ ±0.012dB (Condition : 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced

S/N

  • 122dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • 124dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

Crosstalk

  • -138dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • -144dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

THD+N

  • 0.0006% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • 0.0005% @ 1kHz, Balanced

IMD SMPTE

  • 0.0004% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Unbalanced
  • 0.0003% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1) Balanced

Output Impedance

  • Unbalanced Out 3.5mm (1.2ohm)
  • Balanced Out 2.5mm (1.8ohm), 4.4mm (1.7ohm)

Clock Source

Clock Jitter: 25pS (Typ)

Reference Clock Jitter: 70ps

Storage Capacity

Built-in Memory: 64GB [NAND]

External Memory: microSD x1 (Max. 1TB)

Battery

Capacity: 3,150mAh 3.7V Li-Polymer

Charge Time: about 2.5hours (5V 2A General Charging)

Playback Time: about 20hours (Standard : FLAC, 16bit, 44.1kHz, Unbalanced, Vol.50, EQ Off, LCD Off)

Supported OS

Supported OS: Windows 7,8,10(32/64bit) MAC OS X 10.7

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Astell&Kern’s latest IEM, the AK ZERO1, features three different types of drivers for a new hybrid sound

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, introduces its latest in-ear monitor (IEM), the AK ZERO1, featuring three different types of drivers to deliver a ground-breaking hybrid sound. Composed of a micro planar dynamic driver, dual balanced armature (BA) drivers and a dynamic driver, this unique design combines the sonic characteristics of each driver to produce an unprecedented natural audio. Astell&Kern has set new standards in IEM engineering to get the music fan closer to the original studio sound.

Astell&Kern AK ZERO1 features and innovations include:

  • Three different types of drivers: Planar, balance armature and dynamic
  • Perfectly harmonised driver structure
  • Precision crossover network design
  • Acoustic chamber created using 3D printed technology
  • Precise CNC-machined metal housing
  • Hi-fi-grade pure silver-coated OFC cable for improved transparency of the audio signal

Micro planar dynamic driver

The Micro Rectangular Planar Dynamic Driver is a specially developed, highly advanced driver that allows a planar driver design, normally difficult to scale down for headphones, to be applied to in-ear monitors. Adopting a sturdy and lightweight planar membrane to minimise frequency loss, this is combined with a vibration panel boasting a high-polymer and thin metal film to create crystal clear and dynamic high frequencies.

Dual balanced armature and dynamic drivers

The AK ZERO1’s driver system also features dual BA drivers, using custom-designed coils to deliver transparent vocals with super-low distortion. Couple this with the single 5.6 mm dynamic driver to ensure rich, controlled and deep low frequencies and the AK ZERO1 is poised to deliver its pioneering hybrid sound.

Crossover design

To realise this new sound through the ideal frequency response, a Crossover Network design was generated based on a thorough understanding of each driver’s parameters. Once established, each driver is carefully placed in the optimal position, enclosed in specifically designed acoustic chambers manufactured with 3D printing technology. These precision enclosures cleverly eliminate unnecessary movement and resonance from the drivers to ensure a stable performance. Lastly, the main precision-tooled housing reduces internal and external vibrations to deliver the most focused and accurate sound possible.

Hi-fi grade pure silver-coated cables

To further maximise the audio performance the AK ZERO1 arrives equipped with a pure silver-coated OFC cables. Exquisitely crafted with high-purity silver plating and copper, alongside aluminum plugs, this design strives to maintain transparency of the audio signal. Elsewhere, the MMCX connectors ensure a prime-quality connection between the ear housing and cable, offering a long-lasting and stable performance.

NEW 4.4mm MMCX Cable accessory

For discerning audiophiles looking to experience the highest quality audio possible from their AK ZERO1 IEMs or any other MMCX-connector compatible headphones, Astell&Kern is launching an optional 4.4mm cable. The PEP11 sports larger aluminium-machined 4.4mm plugs and features the same top-quality high-purity silver plating and copper cable.

Signature Astell&Kern design

Astell&Kern’s recognisable bold diagonal design language continues on the AK ZERO1, with the premium cut metal surface brilliantly reflecting the light. The shape of the housing and the slender ear nozzles have been carefully designed and refined to not only provide a secure and comfortable fit, but to deliver the sound efficiently and accurately through your ears. To further provide a snug fit, five different-sized pairs of silicone ear tip and one set of foam tips are supplied, along with a carry case to keep your IEMs pristine during transit.

The Astell&Kern AK ZERO1 is priced £649 / $699 / €749 and is available now from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

The Astell&Kern PEP11 is priced £119 / $130 / €139 and is available from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

Technical specifications

AK ZERO1

Drivers: Hybrid Drivers

  • Special Micro Rectangular Planar Dynamic Driver x1
  • Custom Balanced Armature Driver x2
  • 5.6mm Micro Dynamic Driver x1

Connector type: MMCX

Housing material: Aluminum

Frequency Response: 25Hz–30KHz*

SPL: 96dB@1KHz (1mW)*

Impedance: 16Ω@1KHz*

Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.7%@1KHz

PEP11

Connector type: MMCX

Cable core: 4

Cable material: Silver, Copper

Plug: 4.4mm

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Astell&Kern’s latest A&ultima SP2000T portable digital audio player packs a next gen triple amp system

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, introduces its newest member of its A&ultima series, the  SP2000T. Building on the class-leading sound of the A&ultima SP2000, this latest player is the first to feature a Quad-DAC, a Replay Gain function and a new Triple Amp System allowing music fans to switch between the different sonic characteristics of a normal OP-AMP (operational amp) mode, a vacuum TUBE AMP and a HYBRID AMP mode that combines the tube amp’s warm analog performance and Op-Amp’s high-resolution clarity.

Astell&Kern A&ultima SP2000T new audio design and feature innovations include:

  • Triple Amp System takes portable music listening to a new acoustic level.
  • Vacuum tube amplifier compatible with 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm output jacks.
  • Equipped with an ESS ES9068AS QUAD-DAC for balanced and ultra-detailed sound.
  • New TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution technology.
  • Replay Gain function uniformly adjusts volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit/192 kHz.
  • Dual-Band Wi-Fi Support for improved wireless connection.
  • Internal mechanical design to minimise noise.

NEXT GENERATION AMPLIFIER TECHNOLOGY

Boasting the most advanced amp technology of any portable player, SP2000T owners can toggle between three-amp modes to find the optimal sound to suit the music they are listening to. Based on the set-up from the original SP2000, the OP-AMP configuration offers ultra-clarity and a dynamic playback. Switch to the TUBE AMP mode and the uniquely warm and musical audio associated with vacuum tube amplifiers will be revealed.

To realise the sonic flavour of a vacuum tube amp, the SP2000T is equipped with the portable-friendly dual-triode KORG Nutube. Featuring an anode grid filament structure that operates the same as a triode vacuum tube, this smaller component, consumes far less power, yet delivers the same audio with rich overtones. The Nutube also offers a reliable continuous playback time of approximately 30,000 hours with support for the player’s onboard 2.5mm, 3.5mm and 4.4mm headphone output jacks.

BEST OF BOTH AMP WORLDS

The culmination of Astell&Kern’s rich amp design heritage and expertise, the new innovative HYBRID MODE brings together the distinctive sonic DNA of the detailed OP-AMP and expressive TUBE AMP modes, while providing five options with different mix ratios of each amp’s sound characteristics to best serve the music being played.

SPECIAL INTERNAL DESIGN

To overcome internal microphonic resonances generated by the vacuum tubes that can seriously impact sound quality, Astell&Kern’s audio engineers painstakingly designed a clever modular structure physically separate from the PCB (Printed Circuit Board). Firstly, the vacuum tubes are fixed with flexible silicone covers to minimize any mechanical vibration, while the design uses magnetic forces to float the amp in the air to reduce internal noise.

Further steps are taken to eliminate electromagnetic interference caused when internal components are in operation by applying highly conductive, hyper-pure silver plating on the existing shield cans for extra defence against these sound performance-effecting disturbances.

QUAD-DAC FOR SUPERIOR SOUND

The SP2000T comes equipped with four ES9068AS DACs, with two DACs per channel dedicated for decoding. The result is a more detailed and balanced sound with great depth and spatial realism.

This latest model is also the first to feature Replay Gain functionality that automatically and uniformly adjusts volume playback from sound sources up to 24-bit/192 kHz so playlists can be enjoyed throughout without reaching for the volume.

INTRODUCING TERATON ALPHA SOUND SOLUTION TECHNOLOGY

Following on from the A&futura SE180 player, the SP2000T is the second model to adopt Astell&Kern’s patented TERATON ALPHA Sound Solution. The result of extensive research and development, it is designed to deliver audio playback close to the original sound. The onboard DAC is not the only factor that determines the quality of sound from a DAP: Power, noise, signal conversion, circuit structure all effect the sound signature. Only when each and every one of these elements are optimised, can a player produce sound as close as the music artist and producer intended.

TERATON ALPHA technology, effectively removes power noise and provides efficient power consumption and amplification right through to the audio output interface stage where the digital-to-analogue signal conversion (DAC) takes place – audio technology Astell&Kern has consistently developed and perfected over the years.

FULL HD DISPLAY

Album artwork pops from the screen with the A&ultima SP2000T boasting a full HD display. This 5-inch touchscreen packs a 1920×1080 pixel resolution, 16.7 million colours and 441 PPI, resulting in a clean and sharp user-interface design.

CONNECTIVITY

Alongside with improved dual-band Wi-Fi support, the SP2000T features AK File Drop for easier wireless file transfers. Users can wirelessly transfer files through a PC, smartphone, or FTP program located on the same network to make music management even more convenient.

The new BT Sink function connects the A&ultima SP2000T to an external device, such as a smartphone, via Bluetooth, enabling music to be played back in high-quality on the Astell&Kern player.

Elsewhere A&ultima SP2000T boasts Bluetooth® 5.0, providing greater range and a more stable wireless connection to headphones and, along with support for 24-bit aptX™ HD and LDAC codecs, offers the best possible wireless sound quality.

The A&ultima SP2000T harbours 256GB on-board memory that can be expanded up to 1TB via a microSD card slot, meaning users can carry thousands of hi-res albums with them at all times.

The Astell&Kern A&ultima SP2000T is priced £1,999 / $2,399 / €2,299 and is available now from www.astellkern.co.uk and local independent dealers.

Technical specifications*

Body Colour: Onyx Black

Body Material: Aluminum

Display: 5.0-inch touchscreen, FHD 1920 x 1080 pixels

Supported Audio Formats: WAV, FLAC, WMA, MP3, OGG, APE, AAC, ALAC, AIFF, DFF, DSF

Sample rate:

  • PCM: 8kHz ~ 384kHz (8/16/24/32bits per Sample)
  • DSD Native: DSD64(1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128(1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256(1bit 11.2MHz), DSD512(1bit, 22.4MHz) Stereo

Output Level: Unbalanced 3Vrms │ Balanced 6Vrms (Condition No Load)

CPU: Quad-core

DAC: ESS ES9068AS x4 (Quad-DAC)

Vacuum Tube: KORG Nutube 6P1

Decoding: Support up to 32bit / 384kHz Bit to Bit playback

Input: USB Type-C input (for charging & PC & MAC)

Outputs:

  • Unbalanced Out (3.5mm), Optical Out (3.5mm)
  • Balanced Out (2.5mm, only 4-pole supported / 4.4m, only 5-pole supported)

Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)

Bluetooth®: V5.0 (A2DP, AVRCP, Qualcomm® aptX™ HD, LDAC)

Dimensions: 3.07″ (78.1mm)[W] x 5.55″ (141.1mm)[H] x 0.68″ (17.5mm)[D]

Weight: about 10.89oz (309g)

Feature Enhancements: Firmware upgrade supported (OTA)

Frequency Response:

  • ±0.024dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.038dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Balanced
  • ±0.027dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Unbalanced / ±0.052dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced

S/N:

  • 121dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • 123dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

Crosstalk:

  • -137dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • -142dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

THD+N:

  • 0.0003% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced
  • 0.0003% @ 1kHz, Balanced

IMD SMPTE:

  • 0.0004% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1), Unbalanced
  • 0.0003% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1), Balanced

Output Impedance:

  • Unbalanced Out 3.5mm (1ohm)
  • Balanced Out 2.5mm (1.5ohm), 4.4mm (1.5ohm)

Clock Source

Clock Jitter: 25ps (Typ)

Reference Clock Jitter: 70ps

*Audio specifications will be based on Operational (OP) AMP.

Storage Capacity

Built-in Memory: 256GB [NAND]

External Memory: microSD x1 (Max. 1TB)

Battery

Capacity: 4,200mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer

Charge Time: About 3.5hours (9V / 1.67A Fast Charging) | 5hours (5V 2A General Charging)

Playback Time: About 9hours (Standard: FLAC, 16bit, 44.1kHz, Unbalanced, Vol.50, LCD Off, LED On, OP AMP Mode)

Supported OS 

Windows 7, 8, 10 (32/64bit), MAC OS X 10.7

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