Astell & Kern has launched its first pair of true wireless headphones – and if they live up to the specs, they could be a great Apple AirPods Pro alternative for audiophiles.
The AK UW100 wireless headphones are packed with features designed to extract as much detail as possible from your music, including a high-performance 32-bit DAC and aptX Adaptive support for high-resolution audio streaming.
The new buds take inspiration from the company’s line of premium in-ear headphones, using balanced armature drivers that should deliver an extremely detailed listening experience, and what Astell & Kern describes as “a realistic, distortion-free sound in all genres”.
Bluetooth 5.2 support should ensure that the AK UW100 will connect seamlessly to your devices – and, if your smartphone is running Qualcomm True Wireless Stereo Plus, you’ll get a “more robust connection between the two headphones and the device.” compatible” and a reduction in energy consumption. .
Touch-enabled boxes let you control your music playback with a tap of the earbuds, while a 24-hour battery should be long enough to log a few rides.
Are the Astell & Kern AK UW100 better than the AirPods Pro?
Without testing the Astell & Kern AK UW100 for ourselves, we can’t speak to their performance, but we think they’ll be a better choice for audiophiles than the AirPods Pro.
This is because they offer Hi-Res audio support which means you will be able to enjoy high quality streams. Despite many Apple Music tracks running in lossless, hi-res audio, none of the company’s earbuds or headphones are actually capable of handling these higher quality files – and that’s a big sticking point for anyone who wants to. hear the most accurate reproduction of his favorite. Songs.
We’re pretty confident the AK UW100 will sound great too. While Astell & Kern is well known for making some of the best portable DACs on the planet, the brand already offers a range of high-end in-ear headphones and has a great reputation when it comes to providing natural and detailed audio performance.
Either way, Astell & Kern’s new true wireless earbuds are similarly priced to the AirPods Pro, so you’re not paying a huge premium for these audiophile-friendly features. The AK UW100 will set you back $260 / £249 (around AU$350) when it releases in April, while the AirPods Pro cost $249 / £249 / AU$399 – although AirPods Pro deals will be available from time to time in time.
One thing that might deter you from buying the AK UW100 is the fact that there is no active noise cancellation (unlike the AirPods Pro). However, Astell & Kern claims that the passive noise isolation offered by its new headphones – meaning ambient sound that is physically blocked by the ear tips – is good enough to keep your music from being interrupted by your noisy environment.
The company claims that unlike generic active noise cancellation, the passive noise isolation provided by the AK UW100 does not focus solely on blocking low frequency noise and effectively minimizes unwanted ambient noise in the mid ranges. and high.
If you want to hear your surroundings, you can tap the left earbud to activate ambient mode, which will allow certain sounds to filter through the earbuds. There are four ambient levels, so you can decide how much of your surroundings you want to hear.
If active noise cancellation is a big draw for you, the AK UW100 probably won’t cut it – and you’re better off trying the AirPods Pro, or other noise-canceling headphones like the Bose QuietComfort headphones and the Sony WF. – 1000XM4.
However, if you’re all about audio quality, Astell & Kern’s first true wireless headphones are indeed a very attractive prospect.