Astell & Kern Unveils New USB-C With Hi-Fi Audio

Electronics company Astell & Kern recently announced its new digital-to-analog converter (DAC) for smartphones and computers with USBC-C interfaces, reported What Hi-Fi. The AK USB-C Dual DAC is up for pre-order and will be released in May as per The Verge.

The USB-C DAC is equipped with two Cirrus Logic CS43198 MasterHiFI chips, which can play PCM and DSD audio file formats, particularly 32-bit PCM and 384kHz DSD256. This product seeks to cater to the needs of audiophiles and casual listeners looking for hi-fi audio output.

In supported devices, particularly those that allow external devices to take over audio output, external DACs are used to transmit the sound instead of the digital audio player’s (DAP) integrated DAC module. Phones, dedicated music players, and computers are considered DAPs when used to play digital audio.

Astell & Kern USB-C With Hi-Fi Audio

The use of the AK USB Dual DAC Cable helps users get a sound higher quality sound that is closer to how the producer intends the sound to be.

It is expected to bring out the high-resolution sound offered by lossless file formats like FLAC, WAV, DSD, and PCM. It can also provide better sound from Hi-Res streaming sites such as Tidal, Qobuz, Amazon HD, and Deezer.

It is important to note that DACs, integrated or external, offer different sound qualities and signatures, depending on their designs, which means that the use of a DAC cable on a DAP can change the output quality.

Aside from the Hi-Fi chips, the USB-C DAC also features an analog amplifier that delivers a 2Vrms output level, which can drive high-impedance and power-demanding audio gears.

To deliver the power, the product uses silver-plated copper cores with an additional copper and shielding layer designed to reduce signal interference.

The South Korean firm, known for specializing in portable audio, is popular among audiophiles for its implementation of excellent circuitry, and amplifier and chip designs.

The introduction of this new portable DAC with a USB-C form factor is expected to bring AK users a similar product to its competitors portable DACs from the higher-end AudioQuest DragonFly and Chord Electronics to budget options like Topping, Hidisz, iBasso, and Venture Electronics.

This Astell & Kern offering supports smartphones, personal computers, tablets, and macOS computers.

Apple products such as iPhones and iPads are not compatible with the AK product as they do not support dual DAC usage and have power restrictions. The Verge noted that even the latest iPhone and iPad releases equipped with USB-C ports would not be compatible.