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Astell & Kern USB Dual-DAC
Foto © Astell & Kern (iRiver Ltd.)

Astell & Kern USB Dual-DAC Cable

The new Astell & Kern USB Dual-DAC Cable is designed as a solution for the playback of hi-res audio via mobile devices such as notebooks, tablets and smartphones. It includes, how could it be otherwise, an integrated D/A converter and headphone amplifier.

Astell & Kern USB Dual-DAC Cable, the Astell & Kern brand of iRiver Ltd. introduces its first particularly compact mobile solution for the playback of hi-res audio directly from mobile devices. It is, how could it be otherwise, a combination of D/A converter and headphone amplifier in a particularly compact form.

Up to now, the renowned company has concentrated mainly on the DAP market segment, so now they are expanding the range of products a little.

D/A converter and headphone amplifier

This combination is almost classic in the field of mobile solutions, and a wide variety of approaches from different manufacturers are available on the market. For example, one can choose between cable-bound systems and solutions without cables, i.e. equipped with Bluetooth. The solution from Astell & Kern is quite simple in this respect with a cable, which certainly has its advantages.

Astell & Kern USB Dual-DAC Cable – Simply plug in and go

The new Astell & Kern USB Dual-DAC Cable can simply be connected via a USB-C port and is ready for use. Via USB-C, the Astell & Kern USB Dual-DAC Cable fits almost any notebook and can also be used with a wide range of smartphones and tablets on the market. Only the Apple iPhone and Apple iPad are left out.

Very solid construction

The developers of the new Astell & Kern USB Dual-DAC Cable rely on a very solid construction, namely a housing made of stainless steel. The design of the housing is based on the current design line of portable hi-res audio players and is called Light and Shadow. The surface has a lacquer finish with a special structure, so it should be easy to grip for use with only one hand and at the same time offer a high-quality feel.

  • Astell Kern USB Dual DAC Cable 02
  • Astell Kern USB Dual DAC Cable 06
  • Astell Kern USB Dual DAC Cable 05
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  • Astell Kern USB Dual DAC Cable 01

The cable itself is also very robust, using a specially developed 4-core construction with aramid fibres for reinforcement, according to the manufacturer.

Dual DAC Design

As the name suggests, the developers of the new Astell & Kern USB Dual-DAC Cable use a so-called Dual DAC design, specifically Cirrus Logic CS43198 MasterHiFi DACs, which support hi-res audio in Linear PCM with up to 32 bit and 384 kHz, as well as native DSD including DSD256.

The headphone amplifier relies on an analogue design and is said to feature a warm, clear sound image for playback free of distortion. Even headphones with a high impedance should be able to be operated without problems on the new Astell & Kern USB Dual-DAC Cable, according to the company’s promise, which states an output power of 2 Vrms.

3.5 mm jack plug

Even though it is becoming more and more fashionable for portable solutions to be designed for unbalanced as well as balanced connections, Astell & Kern limits the new Astell & Kern USB Dual-DAC Cable to an unbalanced 3.5 mm jack alone.

As already mentioned, the new Astell & Kern USB Dual-DAC Cable can ultimately be used not only with notebooks, but also with any PC or Mac. Almost every smartphone and tablet is also open for the new Astell & Kern USB Dual-DAC Cable. However, Apple iPhone and Apple iPad, i.e. Apple iOS, are not currently supported. The manufacturer explicitly emphasises this.

The new Astell & Kern USB Dual-DAC Cable is expected to be available from May 2021, with the manufacturer stating the price at US$ 149.

Getting to the point

The Astell & Kern USB Dual-DAC Cable is a simple but also very high-quality solution for playing back hi-res audio with a notebook, smartphone or tablet in the simplest way. Simply plug it into a USB-C port and you’re ready to go. However, it is also clear that for smartphones this only works with the Google Android world, Apple iOS is not supported.

Manufacturer:iRiver Ltd.
Distribution:Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH
Price:US$ 149,-

About Michael Holzinger

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

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