The High-End Show 2022 is where the cream of audio products is announced and launched. The show is taking place in Munich this month and so we can expect a blizzard of press releases announcing some very expensive and delicious audio equipment that will appeal to well-heeled audiophiles.
Astell&Kern, the South Korean maker of DAPs (digital audio players), earphones and other portable hi-fi products is using the show to announce three new products that are bound to appeal to the kind of people who refuse to compromise when it comes to audio quality, no matter where they are.
The first product announced by Astell&Kern is the brand-new Kann Max portable DAP. This is the fourth DAP in the Kann series that’s beloved by audiophiles the world over. The Kann Max achieves a higher power output than the Kann Alpha, its award-winning predecessor.
The new model features a four-step gain level with maximum 15Vrms output so that it can support a wider range of hard-to-drive headphones without creating any distortion. The player also has an innovative circuit design with ultra-high output and low noise, plus an ESS ES9038Q2M Quad-DAC for clear and balanced sound. The Kann Max supports playback of high-resolution digital audio files up to 32-bit 768kHz and it can play native DSD512 files. The player also supports the hi-res Bluetooth aptX HD and LDAC audio codecs.
Pricing & Availability: The Astell&Kern Kann Max DAP will be available from mid-June and will sell for $1,300 / £1,199 / €1,499.
The second announcement from Astell&Kern is the AK HC2 Dual DAC Cable. This is an ultra-compact way of transforming the audio from an iOS and Android smartphone and tablet, as well as Windows or Apple laptop computers. Following on from the AK HC1 (PEE51), this portable DAC has a 4.4mm balanced Pentaconn headphone output enabling audiophiles can seamlessly drive high-resolution headphones and enjoy original studio-quality sounds wherever they are.
The AK HC2 USB-C Dual DAC is packed with cutting-edge features including two Cirrus Logic CS43198 MasterHiFi DACs, the same high-performance chips featured in Astell&Kern’s award-winning A&norma range of DAPs. The DACs support hi-res playback up to native 32bit/384kHz and DSD256.
The AK HC2 has an analog amplifier powerful enough to drive high-impedance headphones and the option of a 4.4mm balanced output offers lower noise, higher output and clearer channel separation. Bespoke capacitors optimize the audio circuitry, suppressing power fluctuations and optimizing output performance, while also minimizing the power consumption of the connected smartphone or tablet.
Pricing & Availability: The Astell&Kern AK HC2 USB-C Dual DAC will begin shipping in mid-June and will sell for $170 / £169 / €199.
The final announcement from Astell&Kern is a collaboration with the excellent Campfire Audio, the Portland-based designer and manufacturer of premium hand-built earphones. The new Pathfinder in-ear monitor (IEM) follows on from the successful Solaris X model that the two companies produced.
These sophisticated earphones use advanced dual-chamber balanced armature (BA) driver technology to achieve a wider frequency range, more realistic reproduction, plus a better-balanced sound. At the heart of the innovative driver assembly is an all-new dual-diaphragm balanced armature driver from Knowles Corporation. Knowles is the world’s expert in producing balanced armatures.
Compared to a traditional balanced armature IEM with a single, larger diaphragm, this all-new design incorporates two chambers, each housing a diaphragm and drive rod actuated by a single coil. The result is a more powerful output than any other balanced armature driver design while delivering a warmer and more natural mid-range.
Pricing & Availability: The Astell&Kern Pathfinder IEMs are priced at $1,900 / £1,899 / €2,199 and will be available from mid-July 2022.
More info: www.astellkern.co.uk