Astell & Kern’s newest cell DAC brings 32-bit audio with fewer sacrifices | Engadget

If you are decided to take heed to high-resolution audio in your cellphone utilizing high-end earphones, you will desire a DAC — and Astell & Kern thinks it has one of many higher choices. The firm has introduced its third USB DAC, the AK HC3, and this one might lastly nail sufficient options to fulfill most customers. It guarantees very high-quality 32-bit, 384kHz audio like its HC2 predecessor, however you possibly can lastly use your headset’s microphone. You will not have to decide on between pristine sound and making cellphone calls.

The AK HC3 additionally makes use of ESS’ newer ES9219MQ twin DAC. A built-in LED even reveals if you happen to’re utilizing a high-res audio format. The USB-C connection helps Macs, Windows PCs, Android telephones and plenty of tablets (together with current iPads), however there’s an included Lightning adapter within the field on your iPhone. Android customers get a devoted app to fine-tune the output.

Astell & Kern will promote the AK HC3 for $229, with pre-orders beginning January twentieth and a launch estimated for February thirteenth. This is not absolutely the highest-quality DAC (Fiio’s Q3 can handle 768kHz), however it’s higher than many cell choices and is comparatively simple to hold.

There are two equally new headphone amps if you happen to’re extra considering high quality than dimension. The Acro CA1000T is a second-gen “carriable” mannequin that makes use of ESS’ new high-end ES9039MPRO twin DAC and a triple amp system that permits you to change between twin vacuum tubes, regular amping and a hybrid that mixes each applied sciences. It arrives alongside the HC3, though the $2,299 worth will restrict it to well-heeled audiophiles.

The AK PA10 transportable, in the meantime, is Astell & Kern’s first gadget with a Class-A amp. The alternative guarantees the “best” linear output and a heat, pure sound for 12 hours of battery-powered use. It additionally will not be low-cost when it arrives on February thirteenth for $599, however it could be value contemplating if you need a stability between portability and uncooked technical prowess.

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