Astell&Kern

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Astell&Kern
Subsidiary
IndustryConsumer electronics
FoundedOctober 2013; 5 years ago (2013-10)[1]
Number of locations
28[2] (2016)
Area served
Worldwide
OwnerIriver
Websitewww.astellnkern.com

Astell&Kern (stylized as Astell&Kern) is a South Korean consumer electronics company founded in October 2013,[1] and is wholly owned by Iriver. The company manufactures media players, CD players, headphones, and home theater products.

History[edit]

Roots and founding[edit]

In January 2013, iriver debuted the AK100 media player at CES 2013, to polarizing critical reception from critics at release.[3][4][5] In July, a pair of in-ear monitors dubbed the AKR01 were released to complement the media players.[6] In August, the AK100's successor, the AK120, was released with minor design enhancements but notoriously the addition of two Wolfson WM8740 DAC chipsets,[7] and was released to better reception. In October, Astell&Kern was founded by Iriver to develop the in-brand products.[1] A limited edition called the AK120 Titan was released shortly in December.[1][8]

Growth, icons and debuts[edit]

In 9 January 2014, the company debuted the AK240 for CES 2014, with it debuting Wi-FI connectivity, and an operating system based upon Android instead of Linux directly. Following the acquisition of Wolfson by Cirrus Logic, the company replaced the Wolfson DAC duo with Logic 4398 chipsets. At CES, the AKR02, the successor to the AKR01, debuted in February; Astell&Kern also revealed home theater products, such as a valve amplifier and cylindrical speaker, as well.[9] In May, collaborating with Jerry Harvey Audio,[1] the company released the AKR03 monitors, successing the AKR02, as well as the AK120II[10] and AK100II players, the second-generation of the AK120 and AK100 players respectively.[11] In honor of the 75th anniversary of Blue Note Records, the AK240 announced a "Blue Note Special Limited Edition" on 17 October.[12][13]

In January 2015, the "AK T5p" headphones, which were co-produced with Beyerdynamic, were released. In February, the company debuted the stainless steel model of the AK240, the AK240SS,[14] and the AK500N, a Network Audio System which can store 1TB of files in a solid-state drive, can stream lossless from PCs and NAS devices, and is noiseless when plugged in.[15] In April, the AK Jr. was released. Unlike other models, Jr. is an entry-level and much smaller media player than other models.[16] In June, the AK380 was launched for the first time.

Expansion and product debuts[edit]

In August, the all-in-one system AK T1 was released, along with the Super Junior x AK Jr collaboration and the Beyerdynamic-produced AK T8iE monitors.[17] In November, Hyundai Card collaborated with Astell&Kern to create the AK100II x HCC model, as well as the AK320's debut and Beyerdynamic-produced AK T1p. In 2015, Astell&Kern collaborated with Japanese voice actress Kana Hanazawa to create the limited AK100II Kana Hanazawa edition, which would include a special song titled "Tadoritsuku Basho" (A Place to Reach) pre-installed in the player.[18]

In 21 January 2016, the company released a Copper Edition of the AK380.[19] In February, the company released four sets of monitors co-produced with Jerry Harvey Audio: Layla II, Roxanne II, Angie II, and Rosie. In July, the company developed a new media player: the AK70.[17]

Products[edit]

Mastering Quality Sound (MQS)[edit]

Astell&Kern markets 24-bit audio with a 44.1 kHz to 192 kHz sampling rate under the name Mastering Quality Sound (MQS). Music sold with this tag comes in both the lossless formats: WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC, APE as well as lossy formats: MP3, AAC, WMA and OGG.[20]

Hardware[edit]

Year Model Type Spec
Capacity Input Battery
2013 AK100 Media player microSD micro USB 16 hours
AKR01 In-ear monitors None. Phone jack None.
AK120 Media player 64GB

64GB microSD

microUSB

2x microSD

16 hours
AK120 Titan 128GB

64GB microSD

14 hours
AK10 USB DAC/amp micro USB 11 hours
2014 AK240 256GB

128GB microSD

microUSB

microSD

10 hours
AKR02 In-ear monitors None. Phone jack None.
AKR03
AK100II Media player 64GB

128GB microSD

microUSB

microSD

N/A
AK120II 128GB Internal and microSD N/A
AK240 Blue Note Special Limited Edition 256GB

128GB microSD

N/A
2015 AK T5p Headphones None. Phone jack None.
AK240SS Media player 256GB

128GB microSD

microUSB

microSD

N/A
AK500N Network Audio System 1TB AES/EBU

BNC

Coaxial

Optical

7 hours
AK Jr Media player 64GB Internal and microSD microUSB

microSD

6–8 hours
AK380 256GB

128GB microSD

10 hours
AK T1 Sound system None. Auxiliary

Optical

microUSB

microSD

None.
Super Junior x AK Jr. Media player 64GB Internal and microSD microUSB

microSD

6–8 hours
AK T8iE Headphones None. Phone jack None.
AK100II x HCC Media player 64GB

128GB microSD

microUSB

microSD

N/A
AK320 128GB Internal and microSD N/A
AK T1p Headphones None. Phone jack None.
2016 AK380 Copper Edition Media player 256GB

128GB microSD

microUSB

microSD

10 hours
Layla II In-ear monitors None. Phone jack None.
Roxanne II
Angie II
Rosie
AK70 Media player 60GB

140GB microSD

microUSB

microSD

N/A
2017 KANN Media player 64GB Internal and SD+microSD USB-C

SD + microSD

15 hours
A&ultima SP1000 (SS/Cu/Bk) 256GB

Internal

256GB

MicroSD

USB-C

microSD

12

hours

2018 AK70 MkII Media player 64GB

Internal

256GB

microSD

micro-USB

microSD

N/A
A&norma SR15 64GB Internal

400GB microSD

USB-C

microSD

N/A
A&ultima SP1000M 128GB

Internal

400GB

microSD

10 hours

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Mileston of Iriver – 2013~2009". Iriver. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  2. ^ "Global Network". Astell&Kern. Iriver. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  3. ^ Lendino, Jamie (18 December 2012). "Iriver Astell & Kern AK100 Review & Rating". PC Magazine. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  4. ^ Waniata, Ryan (10 January 2013). "What does a $700 iPod' sound like? Our first listen with iriver's Astell & Kern AK100". Digital Trends. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  5. ^ Waniata, Ryan (27 January 2013). "iRiver Astell and Kern AK100 Review". Digital Trends. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  6. ^ Cericola, Rachel (31 July 2016). "Astell&Kern Starts Shipping AKR01 In-Ear Headphones". Electronic House. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  7. ^ Stone, Steven (8 August 2013). "Astell & Kern AK120 Portable Music Player Reviewed". Hometheaterreview.com. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  8. ^ "Advanced MP3 Players Astell & Kern AK120 Titan – The Ultimate Portable Hi-Fi Audio System with MQS and expandable memory up to 256GB". Advanced MP3 Players. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  9. ^ Waniata, Ryan (9 January 2014). "Astell&Kern debuts the all new AK240 hi-res portable audio player". Digital Times. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  10. ^ "Astell&Kern AK120II and AK240: Reference Daps". Headfonia. 7 October 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  11. ^ "Astell & Kern AKR03 Headphones – Specs & Detail". SpecOut.
  12. ^ "Bluenote". Astell&Kern. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  13. ^ "Astell&Kern Celebrates Blue Note with Limited Edition Box Set & Branded Player". Blue Note Records. 17 October 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  14. ^ Hull, Scot (8 May 2015). "AXPONA 2015: Astell Kern goes Solid Steel". Part Time Audiophile. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  15. ^ Darko, John H. (25 February 2015). "(Not) a revie of the Astell&Kern AK500N". digitalaudioreview.net. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  16. ^ Pendlebury, Ty (29 July 2015). "Astell & Kern AK Jr review". CNet. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  17. ^ a b Wouk, Kris (22 July 2016). "Astell & Kern Debuts AK70 High-Res Player, T8IE 2 In-Ears". Digital Trends. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  18. ^ "Astell&Kern AK100II KANA HANAZAWAエディション 追加販売決定のお知らせ". iRiver Japan. Retrieved October 1, 2017.
  19. ^ Langridge, Max (21 January 2016). "Astell & Kern AK380 Copper edition brings sonic benefits". What Hi-Fi?. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  20. ^ "What is MQS?". Astell&Kern. 13 September 2016. Retrieved 18 May 2017.