Another new portable DAC has appeared in the firmament: the Astell&Kern AK HC4 Mini DAC, ideal for traveling.
Portable DACs are in high demand and manufacturers naturally like to capitalize on the willing consumer. Thus, there is now the Astell&Kern AK HC4 Mini DAC. The basis of this device is formed by the AK4493S DAC chip. The maximum achievable PCM quality is 32 bit / 384 kHz, while DSD up to DSD256 is supported. Furthermore, the manufacturer has built in such perks as “noise management” (i.e., ensuring as little noise as possible) and an “ultra-precise” designed amplifier. DAR or Digital Audio Remaster is a form of upsampling that is used too.
UAC 1.0 and UAC 2.0
You pair the Astell&Kern AK HC4 via USB-C. As for outputs, there is a choice of 3.5 mm unbalanced and 4.4 mm balanced. According to the manufacturer, the DAC drives the majority of Hi-Fi headphones effortlessly without the need for adapters or additional cables. For gamers, it is good to know that both UAC 1.0 and UAC 2.0 are available.
The AK HC4 portable DAC costs $249; both a USB-C and Lightning cable are included.