Astell&Kern’s AK HC2 Dual DAC Cable drives audiophile-grade headphones to elevate the mobile hi-res audio experience

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, introduces the AK HC2 Dual DAC Cable, an uncompromising and ultra-compact way of transforming the audio of your iOS and Android smartphone and tablet and Windows or Apple laptop computers. Following on from the AK HC1 (PEE51), this portable DAC arrives with a 4.4mm balanced headphone connection so audiophiles and music fans can seamlessly drive their high-resolution headphones of choice and experience original studio-quality sounds, whether on-the-move or listening from a desktop.

With digital-to-analogue conversion circuitry in laptops, tablets and smartphones remaining a secondary focus, and headphone jacks becoming a rarity in smartphones, making the most of the high-resolution audio offered by the most popular streaming services might not appear straightforward. But thanks to the AK HC2 it can be achieved, easily and effectively.

Astell&Kern AK HC2 Dual DAC Key features at a glance:

  • Supports 4.4mm balanced output for improved channel separation and reduced noise
  • Powerful 4Vrms output to drive a wide variety of headphones
  • Equipped with a CS43198 Dual DAC to deliver a hi-fi grade sound
  • Dual Shielded Cable minimises distortion and signal noise
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Optional Android app to enable detailed volume control

Balanced audio for iOS and Android devices

Despite measuring just 17mm x 50mm x 10mm, the AK HC2 USB-C Dual DAC is packed with cutting-edge features, carefully designed to deliver high-quality, low-noise sonics via its 4.4mm balanced headphone output. Ultra-fine audio technology means Astell&Kern has been able to incorporate circuitry, components and power management in a supremely portable device without concession.

Simply plug the Dual DAC into your device’s USB-C input, connect a pair of 4.4mm headphones, and lose yourself in the detailed, dynamic and thrillingly realistic sound. And if you want to improve the audio performance of an iOS device, simply use the supplied USB-C to Lightning adapter. 

Superior Dual DAC, circuit design

At the heart of the AK HC2 Dual DAC Cable are two Cirrus Logic CS43198 MasterHiFi DACs – high-performance DACs that feature in Astell&Kern’s award-winning A&norma range of digital audio players, and support hi-res playback up to native 32bit/384kHz and DSD256. The dual DACs are paired with a high-performance analogue amplifier, powerful enough to drive even high-impedance headphones without difficulty – and the 4.4mm balanced output means lower noise, higher output and clearer channel-separation every time. Bespoke capacitors optimise the audio circuit, suppressing power fluctuations and optimising output performance, while also minimising the power consumption of the connected device.

Durable, dual-shielded cable design

Most USB DAC products have the DAC positioned in the USB terminal connected directly to the device to process and output audio. However, with the AK HC2, digital signals from the device pass through the dual-shielded cable to the audio circuit before being converted to an analogue signal by the DAC. By processing the digital signal at a later stage, the sound performance is superior and noise-free sound compared to other USB DAC products.

A dual-shielded cable is designed to minimize noise interference and deliver a transparent sound as possible. The copper core wire is coated with tin to prevent corrosion and strengthen tensile force for enhanced durability, while the woven cable is wrapped in an aluminum film to help block noise – a persistant issue in audio playback.

Roon Tested

The AK HC2 arrives Roon Tested so subscribers can enjoy the management and sonic features of this multi-music platform, while additional convenience comes thanks to volume control available via the dedicated Android control app. 

Light and shadow design

As is customary with Astell&Kern devices, the AK HC2 follows the company’s unique and distinctive design language. The angled surface follows the ‘light and shadow’ vocabulary featured throughout the Astell&Kern product range, while longevity and a premium feel and build is assured thanks to the polished and robust aluminium body.

The Astell&Kern AK HC2 USB-C Dual DAC is priced £169 / $170 / €199 and available from mid-June 2022 from

General Specifications

DAC: CS43198 Dual

Sample Rate: PCM 32bit/384kHz, Native DSD256

Output Level: 4Vrms

Audio Output: 4.4mm Balanced

USB Type: Type-C

LED: Power On/Off Indicator

Material: Aluminum

Weight: About 29g

Dimensions (WxHxD):

  • USB Plug: 12 x 21 x 6.5mm
  • Body: 22.8 x 60 x 12.1mm

Audio Specifications

Frequency Response:

  • ±0.011dB (Condition: 20Hz~20kHz) Balanced
  • ±0.145dB (Condition: 20Hz~70kHz) Balanced

Signal to Noise Ratio: 122dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

Crosstalk: -146dB @ 1kHz, Balanced

THD+N: 0.0004% @ 1kHz, Balanced

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

Output Impedance: 4.4mm (1.5ohm)



Astell&Kern’s AK USB-C Dual DAC Cable will transform the sonic performance from your mobile device

Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, introduces the AK USB-C Dual DAC Cable, enabling music fans to experience the best sound quality possible from a computer or mobile device, while on-the-move. Joining the company’s line-up of award-winning portable digital audio players (DAPs) and headphones, this ultra-compact audio accessory will transform the sonic performance from an Android smartphone, Windows 10 PC, tablet PC or MacOS computer*.

With leading smartphone manufacturers continually omitting headphones jacks and including low-performance DACs, and with popular streaming services offering high-resolution quality tracks, enjoying high-quality music playback on-the-go or on your desktop is becoming increasingly difficult. This is where the AK USB-C Dual DAC Cable becomes an essential audio accessory: Plug the dual DAC cable into the USB-C input on your device, connect a pair of 3.5mm headphones and immerse yourself in dynamic and detailed sounds.


At the heart of the Astell&Kern AK USB-C DUAL DAC Cable sit two Cirrus Logic CS43198 MasterHIFi™ DACs which support high-resolution audio playback up to native DSD256 and 32bit/384kHz. With years of expertise in audio circuit and amplifier design, the company was able create a complex and highly integrated circuit design to fit into a diminutive, chewing gum packet-sized (17mm x 50mm x 10.3mm) chassis. Elsewhere, Astell&Kern’s bespoke designed capacitors, that also feature in its range of high-performance DAPs, optimise the audio circuit to suppress power fluctuations and provide stable operation and best-in-class audio performance all from an ultra-portable housing.

The dual DACs are paired with an independent analog amplifier, designed to deliver a distortion free, live, warm and clear sound as the artist intended, while harbouring power to sufficiently drive a variety of high impedance headphones with a 2Vrms (Condition No Load) output level.


A custom-made, durable, 4-core cable is designed to withstand the vagaries of life on-the-go and to reduce signal interference for the cleanest audio possible. With Technora aramid fibre at its core to block external noise, thick silver-plated copper is wrapped around this centre strand, with a further layer of copper added in a spiral arrangement. The addition of copper wire helps to affect a clear and rich spatial sound, while separate shielding treatment is applied to the cable to block distortion and digital and analogue signal noise from the playback device.


As you would expect from an Astell&Kern the device, the AKUSB-C Dual DAC Cable boasts a stunning, angled surface design that follows the ‘light and shadow’ concept employed throughout all Astell&Kern products. The smooth, polished metal zinc alloy body offers a reassuring premium feel and bulletproof protection for life on-the-road.

The Astell&Kern AK USB-C Dual DAC Cable is priced £109 and will be available from April from

* iOS-based devices, such as iPhones and iPads, are currently not supported. A dual DAC cable requires more current to run than a single DAC cable. Current iOS devices limit the amount of current exported and so don’t provide enough current to power a dual DAC configuration.

Technical Specifications

Body material: Zinc Alloy

Body colour: Titan

DAC: Cirrus Logic CS43198 x 2

Sample Rate:

  • PCM: Support up to 32bit/384kHz
  • DSD Native: DSD64(1bit 2.8MHz), Stereo / DSD128(1bit 5.6MHz), Stereo / DSD256(1bit 11.2MHz), Stereo

Input: USB Type-C Input
(for Windows 10, Android Smartphone & Tablet PC, macOS)

Output: 3.5mm headphone


  • USB Plug: 12mm[W] x 20mm[H] x 8.2mm[D]
  • 3.5mm Headphone: 17mm[W] x 50mm[H] x 10.3mm[D]

Weight: Approx. 25g 

Frequency response: ± 0.030 (Condition: 20 Hz~20 kHz)

S/N: 118dB @ 1kHz, Unbalanced

THD+N: 0.0004% @ 1kHz, Unbalanced

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

Output impedance: 2ohm

Output power or voltage: 2Vrms (condition no load)