Astell & Kern AK Zero1 – The new hybrid in-ear monitor

For the latest in-ear headphones from Astell & Kern, the developers have set the bar particularly high. With the new Astell & Kern AK Zero1, nothing less than the new standard in the field of in-ear headphones is to be set, especially in the field of those designed as a so-called hybrid solution.

Astell & Kern is convinced that the new Astell & Kern AK Zero1 is a particularly outstanding headphone. What’s more, the company even says that a new reference has been created here, raising the bar a good deal higher when it comes to in-ear headphones.

Especially those in-ear headphones that are designed as a so-called hybrid solution, i.e. that do not rely solely on one driver, but on a combination of several drivers with different concepts.

Astell & Kern AK Zero1 – Three different drivers

Astell & Kern claims that three different drivers are used in the new Astell & Kern AK Zero1, whereby all this takes place in the tiniest of spaces, because after all, in-ear headphones also have to meet ergonomic requirements, i.e. they have to be as comfortable as possible to wear.

The developers of the new Astell & Kern AK Zero1 rely on a Micro Rectangular Planar Dynamic Driver that was developed especially for this model, as the manufacturer describes it.

The reason why the driver has this special geometry is already obvious at first glance: the entire in-ear headphones follow this shape, i.e. they are rectangular, and the driver takes this on in order to achieve the largest possible surface area.

A second driver, the so-called Balanced Armature Driver, is used, and finally, a 5.6 mm Micro Dynamic Driver is also available.

According to the specialist for personal audio devices, this special combination was chosen to guarantee a detailed, dynamic performance, whereby it is noted that the tuning was designed to guarantee an “analogue” sound. Of course, a sophisticated crossover in Minatur format is used here.

From a purely technical point of view, this means in the case of the Astell & Kern AK Zero1 that a frequency range between 25 Hz and 30 kHz can be reproduced, whereby the impedance of the new Astell & Kern AK Zero1 is only 16 ohms and a sensitivity of 96 dB is offered.

Clearly, the new Astell & Kern AK Zero1 is perfectly designed for portable devices and can easily cope with solutions with less powerful output stages.

Housing with futuristic design

As we have already mentioned, the developers at Astell & Kern are once again pursuing their very own design line with the new Astell & Kern AK Zero1, which can rightly be described as futuristic.

The design is based on a very solid construction of CNC-milled aluminium, whereby the chambers for the drivers are realised in a 3D printing process. Each driver has its own acoustic chamber and thus the optimal basis for the best possible development of its full potential. Resonances and vibrations are not an issue here, simply because of the choice of material and the special design.

In addition, the noble character of the aluminium design is skilfully used to convey a particularly valuable impression.

Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern AK Zero1
Foto © Astell & Kern | Astell & Kern AK Zero1

Detachable cable

Of course, the new Astell & Kern AK Zero1 has a detachable cable, using a so-called MMCX connector.

The cable’s connector sheaths are also made of aluminium, and the actual contacts are gold-plated. The cable uses conductors made of OFC (oxygen-free copper), which are coated with silver. The special twisted construction is also intended to avoid interfering influences.

The new Astell & Kern AK Zero1 is expected to be available in specialist shops in November 2021, with a recommended retail price of €749 for these new in-ear headphones.

Of course, the scope of delivery includes earpieces in different sizes, partly made of silicone, partly of so-called memory foam. The new Astell & Kern AK Zero1 also comes with a transport box.

Getting to the point

With the new Astell & Kern AK Zero1, the South Korean specialist for personal audio devices Astell & Kern wants to meet particularly high expectations. The company already offers a large number of headphones, first and foremost in-ear headphones, but the new Astell & Kern AK Zero1 is supposed to distinguish itself by the fact that three drivers are used to guarantee a particularly balanced, detailed sound image over a wide frequency range.

Price€ 749,-
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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