Astell&Kern AK USB-C Dual DAC Cable Announced
Astell&Kern's AK USB-C Dual DAC Cable promises to transform the sonic performance of your mobile device.
Astell&Kern's AK USB-C Dual DAC Cable joins the company's line-up of renowned portable digital audio players (DAPs), such as the Applause Award-winning KANN Alpha, and headphones and aims to upgrade the sound from your Android, Windows, and macOS device.
As its name suggests, at the heart of the Astell&Kern AK USB-C DUAL DAC Cable sit a pair of Cirrus Logic CS43198 MasterHIFi DACs. These support high-resolution audio playback up to native DSD256 and 32bit/384kHz. Unfortunately, iOS owners miss out as those machines limit the amount of current exported and don't provide enough current to power the dual DACs.
Joining the twin DACs is an independent analogue amplifier designed to deliver a distortion-free sound with enough power to sufficiently drive various high impedance headphones with a 2Vrms (Condition No Load) output level, states the manufacturer.
Astell&Kern is no stranger to compact audio circuit and amplifier design and so was able to create a complex and highly integrated circuit design that fits into a chewing gum packet-sized (17mm x 50mm x 10.3mm) chassis. Elsewhere, Astell&Kern's bespoke designed capacitors, which also feature in its range of high-performance DAPs, optimise the audio circuit to suppress power fluctuations and provide stable operation and, they say, best-in-class audio performance all from an ultra-portable housing.
Unsurprisingly, connectivity is via USB-C at one end and a 3.5mm headphone port at the other. The AK USB-C Dual DAC cable features a custom-made, durable, 4-core cable designed to withstand life on the go and reduce signal interference. Its Technora aramid fibre core is said to block external noise. The thick silver-plated copper is wrapped around this centre strand, with a further layer of copper added in a spiral arrangement. We're told that the addition of copper wire helps to affect a clear and rich spatial sound. Whereas the separate shielding treatment is applied to the cable to block distortion and digital and analogue signal noise from the playback device.
The 25g casing is unmistakably Astell&Kern the device as the AK USB-C Dual DAC Cable boasts a striking angled surface design that follows the 'light and shadow' concept employed throughout the brand's products. The smooth, polished metal zinc alloy body promises a reassuring premium feel as well as ruggedness for life on-the-road.
The Astell&Kern AK USB-C Dual DAC Cable is priced at US$110 | S$189 and will be available from April 2021.
The Astell&Kern AK USB-C Dual DAC Cable is an interesting proposition but enters a marketplace with a host of keenly-priced options such as EarMen's Sparrow and AudioQuest's DragonFly Cobalt, to name but two. While we like the styling, not everyone will. However, the proof of the pudding is in the… errr… listening, and with A&K's track record, this dandy dongle shouldn't sound too shabby.
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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