Astell & Kern, a well-known name in the world of portable audio equipment, has recently announced two new products that are set to enrich your listening experience whether you're on the go or gaming at home. The company has introduced the HB1 Bluetooth DAC/Amp and the KANN Ultra Portable Media Player, both of which have a range of features designed to cater to audiophiles and gamers alike.
The Astell & Kern HB1 is a versatile and compact portable DAC/Amp that aims to improve the audio quality of your smartphone, tablet, laptop, and even your gaming console. Priced at $259, this accessory comes equipped with a wide array of features.
For wired connections, the HB1 supports native DSD256 and up to 32-bit/384 kHz lossless audio, including MQA playback when connected to an MQA-decoding device or app. This device utilizes the ESS ES9281AC PRO DAC for exceptional audio quality.
The HB1 also shines in the wireless department, supporting high-resolution audio codecs like LDAC and aptX HD. It's equipped with Bluetooth multi-point capability, allowing it to connect to two devices simultaneously.
This feature should enable seamless switching between various mobile devices while enjoying high-quality audio. It's important to note that the HB1 is built for convenience, offering USB Plug & Play functionality for easy transitions between Bluetooth and USB cable connections.
One distinctive feature of the HB1 is its support for UAC 1.0 and UAC 2.0, making it compatible with gaming consoles like the PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch. This should ensure low latency and enhanced audio quality for an immersive gaming experience.
Moreover, the HB1 incorporates a built-in high-quality microphone for clear voice calls. It uses Knowles's MEMS microphone technology and Qualcomm's cVc Generation 8.0 call solution with Clear Voice Capture technology to suppress ambient noise and deliver crystal-clear vocals to the recipient.
The device also features a dedicated Car Mode, allowing users to enjoy high-quality audio in their vehicles. Simply connect the HB1 to your car's AUX port, and it automatically powers on and off with your vehicle's ignition. Additionally, the HB1 comes with a dual noise-shielded cable, supporting both USB Type-C and Lightning connections.
Astell & Kern's KANN Ultra Portable Media Player is designed to be a powerhouse of high-resolution audio. Priced at $1,599, the KANN Ultra offers an impressive array of features.
One notable feature is the KANN Ultra's support for 32-bit/768 kHz PCM and DSD512 playback, powered by the ESS9039MPRO DAC in a Dual-DAC configuration. This DAC includes a built-in stereo hardware MQA renderer, reducing power consumption, noise, and distortion for enhanced audio performance.
To cater to various headphones and audio equipment, the KANN Ultra features a Triple Output Mode. This mode allows you to connect the player to headphones, IEMs, and other sources while delivering optimal sound quality for each port.
The KANN Ultra also provides users with the flexibility to choose between four gain levels (low, mid, high, and super gain) for output up to 16Vrms, making it capable of driving even the most demanding headphones without the need for an external amplifier.
In addition to its powerful audio capabilities, the KANN Ultra incorporates several technologies to enhance the listening experience, such as Digital Audio Remaster Technology (DAR), crossfeed, DAC filter settings, and ReplayGain for consistent playback volume between tracks.
This portable media player also supports LDAC and aptX HD for high-quality wireless audio playback and offers various connectivity options, including USB digital audio output and Bluetooth Sink functionality to connect to external devices.
With its 5.5-inch Full HD touchscreen, 128GB of internal memory (expandable up to 1TB via microSD cards), and support for popular music streaming services, the KANN Ultra provides a user-friendly and feature-rich audio experience.
Both products, the HB1 and KANN Ultra, are set to be available in November 2023 through authorized Astell & Kern dealers worldwide.