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Astell & Kern AK HC3 - HiFi Sound always and everywhere

With the new Astell & Kern AK HC3, Astell & Kern now presents a particularly compact, almost small portable D/A converter with headphone amplifier. This should prove to be a solution that offers hi-fi sound always and everywhere.

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  • The new Astell & Kern AK HC3, a DAC with integrated headphone amplifier in the form of a USB stick, should prove to be a particularly compact, portable solution.

With the new Astell & Kern AK HC3, the specialist for personal audio devices Astell & Kern describes its latest product as a solution that guarantees hi-fi sound always and everywhere despite its very compact dimensions. In principle, it is a D/A converter combined with a headphone amplifier in the form of a USB stick.

Astell & Kern AK HC3 – Ideal for Smartphones, Tablets and Notebooks

Due to its compact dimensions, the new Astell & Kern AK HC3 is of course ideal for use with a smartphone, tablet or even a notebook. This solution is connected quite simply via the USB-C port, namely via a

It is interesting that the form factor chosen is that of a USB stick, but the converter is connected via a cable. This makes handling much easier in practice. The manufacturer itself therefore refers to the new Astell & Kern AK HC3 as a solution of the HiFi USB-DAC Cable Product Range.

Converters from ESS Technology Inc.

The new Astell & Kern AK HC3 uses converters from the specialist ESS Technology Inc., specifically two units of the ESS ES9219MQ Sabre HiFi DAC, which, according to Astell & Kern, guarantees outstanding results. Ultra High-quality, is how the company describes it, and it also promises very low power consumption, which is of course crucial when used as a mobile device.

The converter is capable of processing signals in Linear PCM with up to 32 bits and 384 kHz, as well as DSD including DSD256.

High-quality cable, robust aluminium housing

As already mentioned, the Astell & Kern AK HC3 uses a cable to connect to the source device. This is said to be a particularly high-quality, double-shielded cable, which should prevent any sound-damaging interference. The same applies to the robust housing of the Astell & Kern AK HC3, which is made of aluminium and anodised in black.

Integrated microphone

A special feature of the new Astell & Kern AK HC3 is that it has an integrated microphone, so that it can also be used as a hands-free device in conjunction with a smartphone, for example, even if you are using a headphone model that does not have a built-in microphone. By the way, headphones are connected via a 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack. Of course, headsets with a 4-pin 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack can also be connected here.

Suitable for Apple iOS and Google Android

In principle, the new Astell & Kern AK HC3 is equally suitable for Apple iOS and Google Android, according to the manufacturer, although a separate app is offered for Google Android. A USB-C to Apple Lightning adapter is included with the Astell & Kern AK HC3 for connection to an Apple iPhone. Thanks to its USB-C, the new Astell & Kern AK HC3 is also suitable for notebooks and of course supports both Microsoft Windows and Apple macOS.

Roon Tested

It must be mentioned that the new Astell & Kern AK HC3 is Roon Tested. This means that it can be used directly as an audio interface for bit-perfect playback via the streaming solution from Roon Labs LLC.

The Astell & Kern AK HC3 measures no more than 12.5 x 21 x 8.7 mm and weighs just under 20 grams.

Prices and availability

Unfortunately, we do not yet have an exact date for the market launch of the new Astell & Kern AK HC3, but according to the manufacturer, it should not be too long now. The price of the new Astell & Kern AK HC3 will probably be around € 230,-.

Getting to the point

The new Astell & Kern AK HC3 is a high-quality USD-DAC with integrated headphone amplifier from the specialist for personal audio devices Astell & Kern, which can be used especially flexibly anytime and anywhere. It is suitable for smartphones and tablets with Google Android, Apple iPad and, via USB-C to Apple Lightning connector, also for Apple iPhone, but can of course also be used for notebooks with Apple macOS as well as Microsoft Windows.

Pricearound € 230,-
Distribution AustriaAudio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH
Distribution Germanyheadphone.shop GmbH
Distribution SwitzerlandPortacomp AG
More about this manufacturer at HiFi BLOG
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Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and sempre-audio.at, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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