A&K Previews New Portable Music Player & More

Astell&Kern (A&K) will unveil a new hi-res portable music player, limited-edition earphones, and a CD ripper at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) in Denver, October 6-8.

The AK70 MK II ($699) will be A&K’s first dual-DAC portable player to sell for less than $1,000 when it becomes available in October. An update of the single-DAC AK70 ($599), it features a dedicated Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC for each channel, said to produce a wider soundstage and better stereo separation, and a power output of 4 volts RMS for its 2.5mm, 4-pole unbalanced output — almost twice that of its predecessor. The increased power will enable the player to drive any headphone on the market, according to the company.

The player is Wi-Fi enabled with direct access to the Tidal streaming service and supports OTA firmware updates and streaming music from other devices on the same network, hi-res audio up to 384-kHz/32-bit PCM (downconverted to 192-kHz/24-bitPCM), 5.6-MHz DSD (converted to PCM), and native DSD output via USB through DoP (DSD over PCM); DSD is converted to PCM for output to external USB Audio devices that do not support DoP.

Other highlights include 64 gigabytes (GB) of internal flash storage with a microSD slot for up to 256 GB of additional storage, a USB DAC for bypassing a Mac/PC’s internal sound card, 3.5mm unbalanced and USB outputs, and compatibility with DLNA 1.0, the AK Connect app (iOS and Android), and A&K’s CD-Ripper.

Dubbed the Michelle Limited, A&K’s second-generation in-ear monitors were created in partnership with Jerry Harvey Audio, maker of professional in-ear monitors, and will be available in October for $399. The special-edition earphones feature three-way balanced armature drivers, described as far more efficient than dynamic drivers, and employ Jerry Harvey Audio’s patented FreqPhase technology, which uses precisely cut tube lengths to align high-, mid- and low-frequency drivers within 1/100th of a millisecond of one another for the “most ideal phase curve” and more accurate sound overall.

The earphones have a Kevlar-wrapped, silver-plated-copper wire that attaches to each earbud a two-pin connector. Each cable is made up of multiple wires, intertwined to disperse stress and improve resilience; 3.5mm unbalanced and 2.5mm balanced cables are provided. A carrying case with a wax tool and small, medium, and large silicon ear tips is included.

The AK CD-Ripper MK II, available in October for $400, was conceived as an accessory that makes it easy to digitize a CD collection now that optical drives have all but disappeared from today’s laptops and computers.

Copying a CD is a simple matter of connecting the ripper to the player and tapping the CD ripping icon to begin. Tracks can be ripped at various speeds and saved in FLAC or Wav formats. Wi-Fi connected Astell&Kern players access Gracenote’s music database and automatically add metadata such as album title, artist, genre, and album art.

The AK CD-Ripper MK II is made of machined aluminum and has a triangular support damper to minimize vibration caused by the spinning CD and help prevent read errors. The ripper is compatible with all Wi-Fi enabled Astell&Kern players, including the new high-end A&ultima SP1000 ($3,499) and KANN ($999). Micro-USB and USB-C cables are included.

For more information, visit us.astellnkern.com.