As a luxury brand, Astell & Kern products aren’t generally those bought with little thought, and depending on your budget, the price alone may put much of what the firm offers outside the realm of possibility. Still, the company knows what it’s doing — in our review of the Astell & Kern Jr last year, we called it the “portable hi-res player to beat.”
The company debuted two new high-resolution audio players at CES this year — the AK320 and AK380 — but prices started at $1,800 and headed upward from there. At $900, the AK300, which Astell & Kern launched today at the High End show in Munich, Germany, still isn’t cheap, but the price is more in line with other hi-res players on the market. This little brother to the AK320 and AK380 packs in a single DAC and is less extravagant, but the company didn’t skimped where it counts.
The AK300 sports a AK4490 DAC, capable of playing back high-resolution audio up to 32-bit/384KHz (down-converted to 24bit/192khz) PCM format, or 5.6MHz DSD, which is converted to PCM for playback. The player features 64GB of built-in storage with up to 200GB of additional storage available thanks to the built-in MicroSD slot. Like its big siblings, the AK300 features Wi-Fi connectivity, the ability to act as a USB DAC, and support for AK Connect.
Another product unveiled by Astell & Kern this week is the AK Recorder, a module for the AK300, AK320, and AK380 that, as the name implies, adds recording capabilities to the players. The company calls this a “pro-grade” audio recorder, and it has features to match with a mic input featuring 48V phantom power for condensers and other mics that require power, as well as a line-in for sources like turntables. Recordings can be anywhere from CD-quality 16-bit/44.1kHz up to hi-res 32-bit/384kHz, supporting DSD64 and DSD128 formats.
The AK Recorder offers the ability to tune mic and pre-amp gain, as well as a number of features like a built-in digital limiter, peak hold, low-cut filters, prerecording, and remote control via Wi-Fi. The AK Recorder sells for $800, with an optional stereo recording kit also available, but sold separately.
Finally, the company is also launching something only the most hardcore audiophiles will truly be excited for: Astell & Kern Graphene Cables, the world’s first audio cable to use the material. The company says that due to the cable’s conductivity — two-thirds better than copper — and its low rate of oxidation, graphene provides the “best possible signal pathway” for audio.
Astell & Kern doesn’t yet have a concrete release date for any of the new products, but says that the AK300 or AK Recorder will be available soon. For more information, see the company’s website.
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