Astell & Kern AK Zero1 Hybrid Earphones Announced
Astell&Kern may well be better known for its premium portable high-res music players but, amongst its wide selection of hi-fi products, it also boasts a good hand in headphones, with the AK Zero1 in-ears its latest wired offering.
The AK Zero1 is rated at 16Ω@1KHz impedance, features three drivers per earpiece, and promises a “ground-breaking hybrid sound”. Perhaps most interestingly, the AK Zero1 includes a specially developed micro rectangular planar dynamic driver, which is known to be tricky to scale down for use in an in-ear monitor. Additionally, there is a vibration panel boasting a high-polymer and thin metal film. Finally, the midband and vocal range are handled by dual balanced armature (BA) drivers using custom-designed coils with the lows produced by a 5.6mm dynamic driver resulting in a quoted 25Hz–30KHz frequency response and 96dB@1KHz (1mW) SPL.
This array of drivers is then carefully placed in the optimal position and enclosed in specifically designed acoustic chambers manufactured with 3D printing technology within a CNC-machined metal housing.
Astell&Kern's unmistakably angular aesthetics are apparent with the AK Zero1's housings treated to premium reflective cut metal surfaces. These would look great beside an equally angular A&K player.
Also bundled in with the earphones is a hi-fi-grade OFC cable crafted with high-purity silver plating and copper and terminated with aluminium plugs to maintain the audio signal's transparency, says A&K.
MMCX connectors promise a top-quality connection between the earpiece housing and cable. However, if you want to upgrade the supplied cable, there's an optional 4.4mm MMCX cable accessory: the PEP11. This sports larger aluminium-machined 4.4mm plugs in addition to the high-purity silver plating and copper cable.
To ensure the best fit, the slender ear nozzles come with five different-sized pairs of silicone ear tips and one set of foam. You also get a neat carry case.
The Astell&Kern AK Zero1 IEM is priced US$699, and the Astell & Kern PEP11 cable, US$130. Both are available from November 2021.
StereoNET’s resident rock star, bass player, and gadget junkie. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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