Astell&Kern has taken the aura of its very best portable hi-res music players and moved the sound out of your ear canals and into the living room. Dubbed the AKT1, AK’s latest creation is an all-in-one sound system, complete with speakers, amplification, and top-shelf digital audio conversion, carved into a steely monolith that will pump out sound in just about any space like a sonic work of modern art.
While the AKT1 looks a shade like a podium from a game show filmed aboard the Starship Enterprise (or a giant “T”), this unique tower of sound is crafted to impress audiophiles with who hold space at a premium. Inside its metal frame, the AKT1 harbors a six pack of speakers, including dual .75-inch tweeters, dual two-inch midrange drivers, and dual 6.5-inch woofers. The speakers are powered by a hybrid amplifier in an active, three-way configuration that leverages an analog amp for the tweeters, and a digital amp for the larger driver set below. The frequency response for the system is a claimed 48Hz-22kHz.
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Just like AK’s top portable players, digital audio conversion for the AKT1 is handled by a pair of Cirrus Logic 4398 DAC chipsets, setup in a dual mono design. The stalwart audiophile-grade DACs allow for native playback of DSD audio (both single rate and double rate), as well as a wide variety of lossless PCM files at a top resolution of 24-bit/192kHz.
The AKT1 also offers multiple ways to play, including a slot for microSD cards to source your audio files directly, as well as a digital Optical input, and a 3.5mm analog Aux input. In addition, the system is setup for both Ethernet and Wi-Fi playback to source files from any DLNA storage device, as well as offering Bluetooth with aptX for an easy way to play CD-quality tracks from your smartphone. Control of the unit is handled by an on-board four-inch touchscreen.
While the system’s power supply, speaker set, and DAC chipset should allow for ultra-clean stereo separation and high-quality sound, at $3,700, the lack of the kind of stereo separation provided by a traditional set of stereo speakers may throw some people off. However, the convenience and style provided by the design, along with sterling components makes the AKT1 an enticing addition to the AK family — especially for discerning listeners with limited space.
For those looking for something a little different — and much more diminutive — than a traditional hi-fi system, the AKT1 will become available from select dealers at the end of August.