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Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII -Next-level True Wireless Sound

Wireless HiFi Sound Quality is a buzzword that one encounters more and more often, as manufacturers want to point out the outstanding sound quality of their headphones. This is currently the case with Astell & Kern, who present the new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKI, the latest generation of what the manufacturer considers to be a unique in-ear headphone.

Story Highlights
  • Astell & Kern calls the new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII True Wireless In-ear Headphones of the latest generation.

Already with the Astell & Kern AK UW100, the philosophy was to realise a solution that delivers music as it corresponds to the original, according to the specialist Astell & Kern, who now presents the second generation of these in-ear headphones with the new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII. Of course, the same goal is to be pursued here, but with even more refined, optimised features.

Around the presentation of the new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII, the company talks about next-level True Wireless Sound, also about a solution that delivers Wireless HiFi Sound Quality, in short, it is supposed to be a product in the field of personal audio devices that can meet even the highest demands.

Ultimate Sound Quality – Anytime, Anywhere

The new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII is a solution that offers nothing less than the ultimate in sound quality, Astell & Kern is convinced, anytime and anywhere, as the company emphasises. For this purpose, these new True Wireless In-ear Headphones are equipped with the latest features, which are quite impressive.

Outstanding design concept

The new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII relies on the latest technologies, but above all on a design philosophy that is reflected in the company’s name, as the manufacturer explains.

In Greek, Astell stands for star, core, which is actually associated with the German word as an expression for in the middle or in the centre, whereas in the case of the new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII, this means that the beauty of music is symbolised by a single star that embodies the sparkle and diffusion of starlight. Well, one hardly buys the company’s products because of the successful metaphors…

The fact is that the new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII is based on a design concept in the form of a pentagon, where light and shadow alternate to form an attractive contrast.

Each earphone here is said to weigh only around 7 g and thus, in conjunction with an ergonomic design in which the ear cup is largely filled, ensures a secure, yet at the same time very comfortable fit at all times.

Qualcomm 5141 SoC at the centre

At the heart of the new in-ear headphones is a so-called low-power Bluetooth audio SoC, namely the Qualcomm 5141 from the specialist Qualcomm Inc. This is a highly integrated solution that combines a multitude of functions that are relevant for modern in-ear headphones.

This SoC (Silicon on a Chip) is not only the Bluetooth module, it also includes a 32-bit dual-core processor, which is clocked at 80 MHz and can be freely programmed by manufacturers using this platform, as well as a freely programmable dual-core 120 MHz Qualcomm Kalimba DSP audio subsystem, which can be used for a wide range of tasks, including active noise suppression and optimisation of voice transmissions, as well as all other relevant interfaces.

In fact, in the case of the new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII, Astell & Kern does make intensive use of the possibilities available via this reference platform.

Bluetooth 5.2 with aptX Adaptive, powerful processor plus separate DSP

This starts with signal transmission, which in the new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII is based on Bluetooth 5.2 and thus the codecs SBC, AAC, but above all aptX and aptX Adaptive. In this case, Qualcomm aptX Voice is also used for the aforementioned optimal signal transmission of speech when the Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII is used as a hands-free device. In addition, two high-quality microphones per earbud and Qualcomm cVc 8.0, (Clear Voice Capture), Qualcomm Echo Cancelling and Noise Supression, also referred to simply as Qualcomm ECNS Technology, are used. In addition to the use for telephone calls, one also benefits from the optimal voice quality when using voice control, be it Apple Siri with Apple iOS, or Google Assistant with Google Android.

It should also be mentioned in this context that the Bluetooth profiles HFP, A2DP and AVRCP are supported.

Back to the signal transmission of music. Here, audio signals with up to 24 bit and 96 kHz are supported, but only if this is also supported by the source device, such as a smartphone with Google Android or a DAP.

Google Fast Pair ensures convenience when connecting to source devices, and the new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII also supports Bluetooth Multi-Point and Bluetooth Multi-Pairing. Not only does this allow the headphones to be paired with several source devices, which remember the different source devices and thus establish a direct connection when needed, but it is also possible to connect to two devices at the same time, for example a DAP for music playback and the smartphone in addition, so that you can switch seamlessly for calls.

32 Bit DAC and Knowless Full Range BA Driver as well as Active Noise Cancelling

According to Astell & Kern, a 32-bit DAC, a 32-bit DAC of the type AKM AK4332ECB from Asahi Kasei Microdevices Corporation, is the main component for best sound quality.

Another essential component for best sound quality is a Knowless Full Range Balanced Armature Driver from the specialist Knowles Electronics LLC., as well as Active Noise Cancelling, which, as already mentioned, is provided by the reference platform from Qualcomm Inc.

From Astell & Kern’s point of view, this is a particularly important feature, because the predecessor, the Astell & Kern AK UW100, was only equipped with PNI, i.e. Passive Noise Isolation, as the manufacturer itself describes it. Now, the new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII is equipped with active noise cancellation, which the company believes is particularly efficient.

Despite activated active noise cancellation, the new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII guarantees that the most important feature of these headphones, as specified by the manufacturer, to reproduce music as precisely as possible, and thus always unaltered and with all details, is clearly achieved.

In this context, it is worth mentioning that the active noise cancellation is based on a so-called Ambient Aware Mode, which guarantees that you can still hear enough of your surroundings to avoid being completely shielded.

Simple control

In the proven manner, the new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII also relies on simple, intuitive control via touch control, whereby the Astell & Kern AK TWS app for Apple iOS and Google Android can be used to determine exactly what the individual control commands look like. This app is also used to use the integrated equaliser, to configure the Ambient Aware Mode just mentioned, and of course to keep an eye on the charging status and to install any updates.

Long battery life – up to 29 hours

The manufacturer claims a battery life of up to 29 hours for the new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII, which of course does not mean continuous music playback. The earbuds last for 9.5 hours, which is quite impressive. The total of 29 hours of music playback away from the power socket is achieved by the transport case included in the scope of delivery, which functions as a power bank. This can be charged either via Qi wireless charging or via USB-C. With dimensions of only 72 x 32 x 34 mm, the transport case weighs just under 65 g.

Prices and availability

The new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII will soon be available in specialist shops, as the manufacturer states, at a price of USD 280,-. Of course, it should not be forgotten to mention that numerous earpieces in different sizes are part of the scope of delivery.

Getting to the point

Astell & Kern wants to meet high demands with the successor of the Astell & Kern AK UW100, the new Astell & Kern AK UW100MKII. It is supposed to be a solution that offers Wireless HiF Sound Quality, i.e. impeccable sound quality always and everywhere. For this purpose, this solution is equipped with the latest technology from the specialist Qualcomm Inc. and also relies on impeccable 32-bit converters and fabulous drivers.

PriceUSD 280,-
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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