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Astell & Kern AK PA10 - Portable Headphone Amplifier in Class A

Pure analogue sound based on Astell & Kern TERATON ALPHA Technology and a Class A output stage is what the latest solution from the specialist for personal audio devices Astell & Kern is supposed to offer, the portable headphone amplifier Astell & Kern AK PA10.

Story Highlights
  • It is the first portable headphone amplifier of the Astell & Kern brand in Class A, which is now available with the new Astell & Kern AK PA10.

The Astell & Kern AK PA10, which the specialist for personal audio devices Astell & Kern now presents as a new portable headphone amplifier, is designed for absolute sound purists. It is said to be the first such solution from Astell & Kern that relies on Class A and also features the Astell & Kern TERATON ALPHA Technology. This ensures that the new Astell & Kern AK PA10 comes up with a particularly natural, warm sound and thus raises the reproduction of digital source devices to a new level of quality, even in the mobile sector.

Portable headphone amplifier with a purely analogue design

It is exciting that the new Astell & Kern AK PA10 is a portable headphone amplifier that is somewhat different from the usual solutions in this class. It is usually the case that manufacturers in this product class rely on a combination of D/A converter and headphones, or Bluetooth and headphone amplifier, but not so the new Astell & Kern AK PA10. This is in fact a headphone amplifier alone, which thus has analogue inputs alone.

Class A with Class A Current Control

Astell & Kern states that Class A amplifiers offer smooth, warm and natural reproduction and deliver content linearly and free of distortion. However, due to their high power consumption, such circuits are not considered the first choice for mobile devices, for example.

Now, the manufacturer has succeeded in developing an amplifier with unique circuit technology that offers all the advantages of Class A in terms of sound, has low noise and is also supposed to get by with comparatively low power consumption.

According to Astell & Kern, this was achieved by a so-called Class A Current Control, a three-stage regulation of the Class A current, which, in addition to an optimal basis for the promised warm sound character, also achieves the significantly lower power consumption.

In order to be able to optimally adapt the Astell & Kern AK PA10 to different headphones, the output level can be adjusted in two stages – High and Low.

Astell & Kern TERATON ALPHA Technology

As already mentioned, the new Astell & Kern AK PA10 features the Astell & Kern TERATON ALPHA Technology, which the company describes as unique and refers to years of research. By means of effective noise suppression, an efficient power management and an unadulterated amplification as well as an optimised output stage, an audio reproduction that comes very close to the original sound is supposed to be possible.

Crossfeed Effect for a wide soundstage and fatigue-free listening

According to Astell & Kern, the new Astell & Kern AK PA10 uses the so-called Crossfeed Effect to achieve a particularly authentic, natural sound with a wide soundstage. Since the left and right channels of headphones are completely separated, an unrealistic sound image is created, which can lead to faster fatigue. This is countered by mixing a part of the signal of one channel with a slight delay to the opposite channel, thus achieving a reproduction similar to that of conventional loudspeaker systems.

It is interesting to note that Astell & Kern does not generate this function by means of DSP, but relies on a discrete circuit to guarantee a sophisticated crossfeed effect that does not affect the original sound.

True Balanced Circuit Design

The new Astell & Kern AK PA10 is, it should be explicitly mentioned, balanced. Consequently, balanced 4.4 mm Pentaconn are available on both the input and output sides. As an alternative, the Astell & Kern AK PA10 also offers 3.5 mm stereo jacks and thus one unbalanced input and output each.

At low gain, the unbalanced output provides 2.1 Vrms or 3.1 Vrms at high gain; the balanced output provides 4.2 Vrms at low gain and 6.2 Vrms at high gain.

Up to twelve hours

The integrated battery of the new Astell & Kern AK PA10 is said to offer up to twelve hours of playtime, according to the manufacturer. The 4,200 mAh 3.8 V lithium-polymer battery is charged via a USB-C interface, which is said to be completed within around three hours via fast charging.

The new Astell & Kern AK PA10 measures 140 mm in height, 73 mm in width and 23.3 mm in depth and weighs 325 g with its aluminium housing with silicone applications in graphite grey.

Prices and availability

The new Astell & Kern AK PA10 is expected to be available from specialist retailers shortly. The price will be € 690,-.

Getting to the point

It is a little surprising that Astell & Kern’s new portable headphone amplifier, the Astell & Kern AK PA10, does not use the usual combination of D/A converter or Bluetooth and headphone amplifier in this class, but rather a purely analogue solution with a balanced amplifier in Class A. This is supposed to produce a particularly natural, very warm sound with a wide stage.

Price€ 690,-
Distribution AustriaAudio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH
Distribution 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, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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