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Astell & Kern AK UW100 – A new benchmark

Astell & Kern is convinced that the new Astell & Kern AK UW100 sets a new benchmark in the field of true wireless sound, as it is the first true wireless in-ear headphones to be launched on the market.

Astell & Kern AK UW100 is the latest headphone model from Dreamus of the Astell & Kern brand. For the first time, these are so-called true wireless in-ear headphones, i.e. they do without cables and instead use Bluetooth for signal transmission. By their own admission, the company has set the bar particularly high, they even claim to have set a new benchmark in the field of wireless in-ear headphones. The new Astell & Kern AK UW100 is therefore clearly aimed at particularly demanding music lovers who do not want to do without the best quality when they are on the move.

Astell & Kern is convinced that the new Astell & Kern AK UW100 delivers nothing less than True Wireless HiFi sound as one would expect from the manufacturer’s solutions.

Astell & Kern AK UW100 – The first True Wireless In-ear Headphones from Astell & Kern

Astell & Kern is known as a specialist for portable hi-res audio players or DAP, i.e. Digital Audio Player. In addition, the company already has a wide range of headphones, although until now they have concentrated solely on models with cables.

The reason for this is, of course, that Astell & Kern is aimed at particularly demanding users who want to achieve the best possible quality on the move, especially in combination with the company’s various DAP models, and who therefore value the reproduction of the full potential of recordings in hi-res audio. This can be realised in the best possible way with cable, that must be clearly stated.

Bluetooth 5.2 from the specialist Qualcomm

In order to meet the high expectations of customers for wireless in-ear headphones like the new Astell & Kern AK UW100, the developers rely on Bluetooth 5.2 based on a Bluetooth chipset from the specialist Qualcomm, the Qualcomm QCC5141. This is able to map the Bluetooth profiles A2DP, HFP and AVRCP and to support the Bluetooth codecs SBC, AAC and above all aptX Adaptive.

This not only ensures reliable signal transmission with minimum latency thanks to Qualcomm True Wireless Stereo Plus, but also a sufficiently high data rate of 420 kbps to transmit signals with 24 bits.

Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern AK UW100
Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern AK UW100

Multi-Point and Multi-Pairing Support

A very important point is that the new Astell & Kern AK UW100 can not only be paired with several devices by means of multi-pairing support, and can therefore be used very easily with this or that source device, but also offers multi-point support. This means that you can connect the headphones to a DAP and a smartphone at the same time, so that you can switch directly from music playback to a phone call when you receive an incoming call.

High-quality converter and Knowles Full Range BA Driver

According to Astell & Kern, another very important component is the converter, which is why they decided to use a 32-bit DAC of the type AKM AK4332ECB from the specialist Asahi Kasei Microdevices Corporation for the new Astell & Kern AK UW100. This means that the company deliberately refrains from using the converter already integrated into the Bluetooth chipset, as many manufacturers do simply because of the associated lower energy consumption and, of course, the massive cost savings and less complex development.

From Astell & Kern’s point of view, a high-quality transducer is the basis for achieving the best results in the area of in-ear headphones, and even more, they are talking about a driver stage where they trust in the experience gained in the development of first-class DAP solutions from their own company. This should ensure that the driver is driven in the best possible way.

The driver used in the new Astell & Kern AK UW100 is a Knowles Full Range BA Driver, a so-called Balanced Armature Driver, in order to achieve a particularly accurate, detailed reproduction over a wide frequency range.

  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern AK UW100
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern AK UW100
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern AK UW100
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern AK UW100
  • Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern AK UW100

Crystal clear conversations and passive noise isolation

By integrating a so-called Voice Communication Package from the specialist Alango, the Astell & Kern AK UW100 enables high-quality telephone conversations.

Based on special acoustic echo canceller and noise suppressor technologies, the Astell & Kern AK UW100 reduces noise in various environments and thus ensures clear conversations at all times, according to the manufacturer’s promise.

By the way, these True Wireless In-Ear headphones do not feature active noise suppression, but the manufacturer claims that ambient noise is suppressed as best as possible thanks to a perfect fit, thus ensuring undisturbed music enjoyment. The company even speaks of Passive Noise Isolation, or PNI for short, which is said to be the best in this class. The new Astell & Kern AK UW100 also offers an Ambient Mode to actively perceive ambient noise. Four different modes can be selected here according to requirements.

Simple control

Functions such as the Ambient Mode just mentioned, but also the control of playback, the control of the volume and the answering of telephone calls are carried out by means of sensor buttons, which are located on the outside of the slim housing.

Voice assistants of the smartphone can also be accessed directly in this way, be it Apple Siri under Apple iOS or Google Assistant for solutions with Google Android as the operating system.

Of course, the convenient control also includes a suitable app that facilitates the configuration of various functions and also has an equaliser for adjusting the sound characteristics.

Long battery life of up to 24 hours

Of course, the new Astell & Kern AK UW100 is also supposed to shine with a particularly long battery life – the manufacturer claims up to six hours in this regard, and with a charging case included in the scope of delivery, a total of up to 24 hours can be achieved.

This case can be charged via USB-C or Qi wireless charging. Incidentally, after only ten minutes, sufficient “power” is already available via Fast Charging to be able to enjoy music for another hour.

Prices and availability

The new Astell & Kern AK UW100 and thus the first True Wireless in-ear headphones from Astell & Kern will probably be available in specialist shops in April 2022. The recommended retail price for this solution is listed at € 299,-.

Getting to the point

It was foreseeable, even if the specialist for personal audio devices Astell & Kern has so far focused exclusively on in-ear headphones with cables, the company cannot ignore the steadily increasing consumer demand for true wireless in-ear headphones even in the higher quality segment, and is now introducing the new Astell & Kern AK UW100.

PRODUCTASTELL & KERN AK UW100
Price€ 299,-
BrandASTELL & KERN
ManufactureriRiver Ltd.
Distribution AustriaAudio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH
Distribution Germanyheadphone.shop GmbH
Distribution SwitzerlandPortacomp AG
More about this manufacturer at HiFi BLOG

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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