The Astell & Kern AK HB1 is a brand new portable DAC and headphone amplifier in one, intended for use on the go.
We all know it: the DACs in devices such as laptops, many budget smartphones and so on deliver a pretty lousy sound quality. Portable DACs are a godsend in this regard, such as the new Astell & Kern AK HB1, for example. This small device can be connected via USB-C as well as Bluetooth (on the headphone side). In the latter case, an arsenal of codecs are available: aptX HD, AAC, LDAC and, of course, SBC. The very best sound quality is obviously achieved with wired headphones. For that you can choose on the DAC from a 3.5 mm unbalanced or a 4.4 mm balanced output. Both are driven by a headphone amplifier that is also present in the AK HB1
Including microphone for hands-free conversations
As for DAC capabilities, a maximum PCM quality of 32 bit / 384 kHz is possible, while DSD up to DSD256 is supported. Gamers can enjoy UAC 2.0 and UAC 1.0 for reduced lag time during gaming. Finally, the Astell & Kern AK HB1 features a built-in microphone – a high-quality one, according to the manufacturer – for hands-free calls. In the process, the proprietary Clear Voice Capture is employed to suppress ambient noise and enhance speech.
The AK HB1 is available per direct and costs $250.