I am sad to report that Astell&Kern still has not launched their $10,000 portable ultra-player, the fabled AK960. And this is despite all of those April 1st announcements! I am completely at a loss.
Instead, they’ve launched the AK320. Priced at $1,799, the 320 will probably appeal to a wider audience. Announced after RMAF this past year, the new 320 is nearly identical to the class-leading 380 ($3,499) — the decoding guts are apparently the same — with two notable exceptions. One, there’s no “native DSD” decoding. Two, the internal storage is only 1/2 what the 380 carries (128 gigs vs 256).
On display here was the new copper-clad AK380 ($3,999), and yes, it’s striking. It’s also a bit heavier than the “regular” duralumin version — the weight of the copper chassis alone is 3x the weight of the other. I should note that while it is “coated”, that coating is not going to keep it from developing a bit of patina over time. Personally, I think that’s one of the reasons why copper is actually interesting, but it is something to keep in mind.
Also shown here was the Copper AMP, the “sleeve” that the 380 can slip into to boost output to 2.5mm 8.1v via the balanced output (4.1v via the 3.5mm “regular” output). The price of the AMP is $699 regularly — the Copper version takes that to $999.
Show goers also got a peek at another Beyerdynamic collaboration. The T8iE ($999) is a tiny universal-fit in-ear monitor coming from the same team that brought the T1 and AK T5p.
Don’t like the German sound? JH Audio is ready with a suite of Astell&Kern branded alternatives, including the Layla, Roxanne, Angie, and Rosie — all now in Version II format (except Rosie, that’s new), which features a new shell and a more linear sound signature.