One of the biggest surprises for personal audio at AXPONA was the early arrival of the new AK Jr. from digital audio player company Astell and Kern. A press release went out on Friday announcing the launch and subsequent public release at the upcoming Munich show, but the AK team located in the Ear Gear Expo was kind enough to give Audio-Head the sneak peek ahead of time.
The newest addition to the DAP lineup rides in just under the current entry level model the AK100 II ($899). The new “Jr.” will be priced at $499 when it hits the streets “soon”. Astell and Kern looks as though it is trying hard to hit a price point for every flavor and the newest player will no doubt appease many consumers who thought the $899 jump was a little out of their range. Interestingly, many audiophile manufacturers experience a counter-intuitive sales emphasis where their highest priced product sells the most. I would not at all be surprised if the flagship AK240 ($2,499) was the company’s biggest seller, so even more kudos to them for spreading the love around to lower price points.
The AK Jr.’s interface is fairly similar to the rest of the line. Along with DSD playback the DAP can also be connected to a computer and utilized as an external DAC.
The player is the slimmest of the family and features 64gig of internal memory and is expandable another 64gig via the MicroSD card slot located next to the wheel volume control on the right side. The chip used in the new device is a single Wolfson WM8740 and the output impedance for headphones is 2 ohms (the original AK100 was set at 22).
Like the rest of Astell and Kern’s designs, there are several nice aesthetic touches that give the product a nice polished feel. The body material will be made of aluminum and the product will be available in the silver finish you see here.
Play the video embed below for a more 3 dimensional look at the new player.