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Editor’s brief: Plugging your wireless headphones into your device is the simplest foot forward for audio, but sometimes you want extra oomph. So, some of us would use a wired heaphone instead. And for the added punch, why not plug something like a Astell&Kern HC2 Dual DAC cable and get even better audio you deserve? The vendor’s release is below.

Astell&Kern’s AK HC2 Dual DAC Cable drives audiophile-grade headphones to elevate the mobile hi-res audio experience

SINGAPORE @mcgallen #microwireinfo, July 19, 2022 – Astell&Kern, the global leader in premium portable high-resolution audio devices, introduces the AK HC2 Dual DAC Cable, an uncompromising and ultra-compact way of transforming the audio of your iOS and Android smartphone and tablet and Windows or Apple laptop computers. Following on from the PEE51(AK HC1), this portable DAC arrives with a 4.4mm balanced headphone connection so audiophiles and music fans can seamlessly drive their high-resolution headphones of choice and experience original studio-quality sounds, whether on-the-move or listening from a desktop.

With digital-to-analogue conversion circuitry in laptops, tablets and smartphones remaining a secondary focus, and headphone jacks becoming a rarity in smartphones, making the most of the high-resolution audio offered by the most popular streaming services might not appear straightforward. But thanks to the AK HC2 it can be achieved, easily and effectively.

Astell&Kern AK HC2 Dual DAC Key features at a glance

  • Supports 4.4mm balanced output for improved channel separation and reduced noise
  • Powerful 4Vrms output to drive a wide variety of headphones
  • Equipped with a CS43198 Dual DAC to deliver a hi-fi grade sound
  • Dual Shielded Cable minimises distortion and signal noise
  • Compatible with iOS and Android devices
  • Optional Android app to enable detailed volume control

Balanced audio for iOS and Android devices

Despite measuring just 17mm x 50mm x 10mm, the AK HC2 USB-C Dual DAC is packed with cutting-edge features, carefully designed to deliver high-quality, low-noise sonics via its 4.4mm balanced headphone output. Ultra-fine audio technology means Astell&Kern has been able to incorporate circuitry, components and power management in a supremely portable device without concession.

Simply plug the Dual DAC into your device’s USB-C input, connect a pair of 4.4mm headphones, and lose yourself in the detailed, dynamic and thrillingly realistic sound. If you want to improve the audio performance of an iOS device, simply use the supplied USB-C to Lightning adapter.

Superior Dual DAC, circuit design

At the heart of the AK HC2 Dual DAC Cable are two Cirrus Logic CS43198 MasterHiFi DACs – high-performance DACs that feature in Astell&Kern’s award-winning A&norma range of digital audio players, and support hi-res playback up to native 32bit/384kHz and DSD256.

The dual DACs are paired with a high-performance analogue amplifier, powerful enough to drive even high-impedance headphones without difficulty – and the 4.4mm balanced output means lower noise, higher output and clearer channel-separation every time. Bespoke capacitors optimise the audio circuit, suppressing power fluctuations and optimising output performance, while also minimising the power consumption of the connected device.

Durable, dual-shielded cable design

Most USB DAC products have the DAC positioned in the USB terminal connected directly to the device to process and output audio. However, with the AK HC2, digital signals from the device pass through the dual-shielded cable to the audio circuit before being converted to an analogue signal by the DAC. By processing the digital signal at a later stage, the sound performance is superior and noise-free sound compared to other USB DAC products.

A dual-shielded cable is designed to minimise noise interference and deliver a transparent sound as possible. The copper core wire is coated with tin to prevent corrosion and strengthen tensile force for enhanced durability, while the woven cable is wrapped in an aluminum film to help block noise – a persistent issue in audio playback.

Roon Tested

The AK HC2 arrives Roon Tested so subscribers can enjoy the management and sonic features of this multi-music platform, while additional convenience comes thanks to volume control available via the dedicated Android control app.

Light and shadow design

As is customary with Astell&Kern devices, the AK HC2 follows the company’s unique and distinctive design language. The angled surface follows the ‘light and shadow’ vocabulary featured throughout the Astell&Kern product range, while longevity and a premium feel and build is assured thanks to the polished and robust aluminium body.

Technical Specifications

  • DAC: CS43198 Dual
  • Sample Rate: PCM 32bit/384kHz, Native DSD256
  • Output Level: 4Vrms
  • Audio Output: 4.4mm Balanced
  • USB Type: Type-C
  • LED: Power On/Off Indicator
  • Material: Aluminium
  • Weight: About 29g
  • Dimensions (WxHxD): USB Plug: 12 x 21 x 6.5mm; Body: 22.8 x 60 x 12.1mm

Pricing & Availability

The Astell&Kern AK HC2 Dual DAC Cable will be available in Singapore immediately at a retail price of S$269 (including GST), and can be found at AV One (www.av1group.com.sg), Connect IT, Lazada (www.lazada.sg/shop/av-one), and Treoo.

About Astell&Kern

Astell&Kern is the ultimate digital music source that brings you Mastering Quality Sound or MQS. Astell means ‘Stars’ in Latin and Kern means ‘Center’ in German. Founded in October 2013, Astell&Kern is a South Korean consumer electronics company that manufactures media players, CD players, headphones, and home theatre products. Astell&Kern’s pursuit is to provide natural and original sound without distortion. The power of true sound from Astell&Kern can now be experienced and has been part of many famous audio exhibitions around the world. Astell&Kern is now admired by music lovers from many countries, including the USA, China, Japan, UK, France, and many more around the world.

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