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)