Astell&Kern Launches USB-C Dual DAC Cable
Mar 18, 2021 at 10:00 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 180
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Astell&Kern Launches USB-C Dual DAC Cable
Playback High-Resolution Audio on Your Computer or Mobile Device

PEE51_04_480x480.png

Astell&Kern
, a global leader in high-resolution audio players and accessories, launches their first USB Dual-DAC/Headphone amplifier designed to provide playback of high-resolution audio from your computer or mobile device. With more mobile phone manufacturers removing headphone jacks from their devices, the Astell&Kern USB Dual-DAC Cable provides users the ability to get the best sound possible out of their mobile devices while using existing headphones they already own.

02_PEE51_Internal_Components_480x480.png


The Astell&Kern USB DAC Cable features two Cirrus Logic CS43198 MasterHIFI™ DACs which supports native playback of high-resolution audio up to DSD256 and 32bit/384kHz PCM. The dual CS43198 DACs are paired with an independent analog amplifier, designed to provide true audio playback so you can feel the live, warm and clear sound as intended, without distortion. This is made possible based on years of Astell&Kern’s expertise in AMP design. Although it is a small and simple cable type external DAC, it is able to sufficiently drive high impedance headphones with a 2Vrms (Condition No Load) output level.

PEE51_04_Device_Connections_480x480.png


The Astell&Kern USB DAC cable features a USB-C connection, which can be found on the latest Android-based smartphones and Windows and Mac computers. Since the USB DAC Cable draws power from the playback device it is connected to, there is no need for a separate charger. The USB DAC Cable supports any headphone or earphone with a 3.5mm connector.


The cable used in the USB DAC is a custom-made, 4-core cable designed by Astell&Kern to provide the best sound possible and enhance durability. The cable is reinforced to withstand up to 200N of tensile force using aramid fiber.

PEE51_Design_Concept_480x480.png


The all-metal body of the USB DAC uses the design concept of “light and shadow” that is used in all Astell&Kern products. The USB DAC Cable design is based on a single centerline that boldly crosses from right to left. The faces were arranged by adjusting the angle ratio so that the sharp faces of the upper four faces meet at one point. It is designed so that each side is reflected according to the movement of light.

To make the grip comfortable for one-handed use, the surface was created to be like a pebble that has been smoothly polished by the natural weathering effect of stone, rather than featuring the sharper angles typically found in existing Astell&Kern products. This product design provides a nice, smooth feeling when holding the cable in your hand.

The weight of the metal material used reflects the same durability and solid feel compared to other Astell&Kern devices.

The Astell&Kern USB DAC Cable is compatible with most Android-based smartphones and tablets, computers running Windows 10 and MacOS. iOS-based devices, such as iPhones and iPads are currently not supported.

You can now bring the famous Astell&Kern signature sound to your devices for a reasonable price.

The Astell&Kern USB-C Dual DAC Cable will be available in May 2021 at authorized Astell&Kern dealers for $149.
 
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Mar 19, 2021 at 9:40 AM Post #2 of 180
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Interesting that A&K chose not to use the ESS9068 MQA capable portable chip. This sounds like using up chip stock from older models, which is an efficient way to do business but denies the latest features. As DAC cables go, this one is on the expensive side, probably would have been more competitive at $80 to $100.
 
Mar 19, 2021 at 10:30 AM Post #3 of 180

killaHz

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Interesting that A&K chose not to use the ESS9068 MQA capable portable chip. This sounds like using up chip stock from older models, which is an efficient way to do business but denies the latest features. As DAC cables go, this one is on the expensive side, probably would have been more competitive at $80 to $100.
A&K probably shouldn’t bother trying to make stuff in this price range—wait, forget “probably.” I just noticed that there’s no 2.5mm jack on this thing. A&K should never release a product without their own jack format represented. They would have been better off going higher in price, and having both.

Unlike with a DAP, there’s no room for A&K to really show off their traditional elegance in design and materials. So unlike the DAP market, where they have a competitive-sounding product in a compellingly-designed box, they’re left competing purely on performance in the inline DAC market, which is a tough spot, considering how good some of the Chinese companies have gotten at mass producing ultra-quiet, ultra-cheap devices using ESS chips. Maybe I’m wrong; maybe people will luuuv the faceted shape of this dongle enough to justify a big price tag, just the way they do with A&K’s DAPs. But I doubt it.
 
Mar 19, 2021 at 10:51 AM Post #5 of 180

szore

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Mar 19, 2021 at 10:59 AM Post #6 of 180

CK Moustache

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What does that mean? What does it tell us?

This tells us that low impedance IEMs with a non-flat impedance response (such as the vast majority of multi-BA in-ears) would sound somewhat different when driven by the A&K USB-C DAC compared to if they were used with a DAC with close to 0 Ohms output impedance.
 
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Mar 19, 2021 at 11:03 AM Post #7 of 180

szore

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This tells us that low impedance IEMs with a non-flat impedance response (such as the vast majority of multi-BA in-ears) would sound somewhat differently when driven by the A&K USB-C DAC compared to if they were used with a DAC with close to 0 Ohms output impedance.
Interesting...and output impedance is the impedance of the output circuitry in total?
 
Mar 19, 2021 at 12:07 PM Post #11 of 180

Tex Irie

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Astell&Kern Launches USB-C Dual DAC Cable
Playback High-Resolution Audio on Your Computer or Mobile Device

PEE51_04_480x480.png

Astell&Kern
, a global leader in high-resolution audio players and accessories, launches their first USB Dual-DAC/Headphone amplifier designed to provide playback of high-resolution audio from your computer or mobile device. With more mobile phone manufacturers removing headphone jacks from their devices, the Astell&Kern USB Dual-DAC Cable provides users the ability to get the best sound possible out of their mobile devices while using existing headphones they already own.

02_PEE51_Internal_Components_480x480.png


The Astell&Kern USB DAC Cable features two Cirrus Logic CS43198 MasterHIFI™ DACs which supports native playback of high-resolution audio up to DSD256 and 32bit/384kHz PCM. The dual CS43198 DACs are paired with an independent analog amplifier, designed to provide true audio playback so you can feel the live, warm and clear sound as intended, without distortion. This is made possible based on years of Astell&Kern’s expertise in AMP design. Although it is a small and simple cable type external DAC, it is able to sufficiently drive high impedance headphones with a 2Vrms (Condition No Load) output level.

PEE51_04_Device_Connections_480x480.png


The Astell&Kern USB DAC cable features a USB-C connection, which can be found on the latest Android-based smartphones and Windows and Mac computers. Since the USB DAC Cable draws power from the playback device it is connected to, there is no need for a separate charger. The USB DAC Cable supports any headphone or earphone with a 3.5mm connector.


The cable used in the USB DAC is a custom-made, 4-core cable designed by Astell&Kern to provide the best sound possible and enhance durability. The cable is reinforced to withstand up to 200N of tensile force using aramid fiber.

PEE51_Design_Concept_480x480.png


The all-metal body of the USB DAC uses the design concept of “light and shadow” that is used in all Astell&Kern products. The USB DAC Cable design is based on a single centerline that boldly crosses from right to left. The faces were arranged by adjusting the angle ratio so that the sharp faces of the upper four faces meet at one point. It is designed so that each side is reflected according to the movement of light.

To make the grip comfortable for one-handed use, the surface was created to be like a pebble that has been smoothly polished by the natural weathering effect of stone, rather than featuring the sharper angles typically found in existing Astell&Kern products. This product design provides a nice, smooth feeling when holding the cable in your hand.

The weight of the metal material used reflects the same durability and solid feel compared to other Astell&Kern devices.

The Astell&Kern USB DAC Cable is compatible with most Android-based smartphones and tablets, computers running Windows 10 and MacOS. iOS-based devices, such as iPhones and iPads are currently not supported.

You can now bring the famous Astell&Kern signature sound to your devices for a reasonable price.

The Astell&Kern USB-C Dual DAC Cable will be available in May 2021 at authorized Astell&Kern dealers for $149.
This is cool but should have definitely had some kind of balanced jack and detachable cable. I'd like to know how this compares to the Luxury Precision W2 and Lotoo Paw S1?
 
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Mar 19, 2021 at 12:22 PM Post #12 of 180

rlw6534

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It's probably worth pointing out that this device is half the price of a Dragonfly Cobalt when discussing features/capability. Just saying.
 
Mar 19, 2021 at 1:08 PM Post #14 of 180

senorx12562

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It's probably worth pointing out that this device is half the price of a Dragonfly Cobalt when discussing features/capability. Just saying.
Which means that for me at least, it is only 2x overpriced instead of 4x.
 
Mar 19, 2021 at 1:29 PM Post #15 of 180

HiFiHawaii808

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Except the Dragonfly works with iPhone / iPad and the AK does not. I'd rather pay more and have features.
Not supporting ios devices is a head scratcher. I wonder why they decided to hard wire the USB-C pigtail to the DAC? Perhaps they will introduce a separate DAC later for IOS. Seems like a market limiting product design element.

I think their idea is right. Put out a DAC where potential customers can hear the A&K sound signature which will drive demand for DAP purchases. This certainly happened for me with the Lotoo PAW S1. Same with the LPW2. This particular approach seems a bit off.
 

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