With audiophile-grade gear more accessible than ever, people have also become more discerning about the music they consume all throughout the day. They pay for lossless streaming services. They buy the best earbuds money can buy for on-the-go listening. Some of them will even get a portable DAC like the Astell & Kern USB-C Dual-DAC Cable to beef up the music playing out of their smartphones.
Designed for smartphones, tablets, and PCs, the device goes into any available USB-C slot, giving you an easy way to make your digital audio sound like their analog counterparts. Want to make your Spotify playlist feel warmer, clearer, and more vibrant? This should do the trick. Want to enjoy the best distortion-free sound possible while playing competitive PC games? Hook it up to your PC and plug in your headphones to make sure you never miss a single in-game audio cue.
The Astell & Kern USB-C Dual-DAC Cable consists of two enclosures, a smaller one with the USB connector and a larger one housing the audio hardware, with both of them connected by a short cable. It has two Cirrus Logic CS43198 MasterHIFI digital-to-analog converters installed on its six-layer PCB, along with an independent analog amplifier. According to the outfit, this combo leads to audio playback that really sounds as authentic as analog music sources, making it a great accessory for discerning listeners who can appreciate the warm and soulful qualities of analog recordings.
It boasts 32-bit/384kHz playback, so you’re upscaling your audio to a really high quality. We know… lots of audiophiles claim the difference between 32-bit and 24-bit is hardly discernible to the human ear, but if you like impressive specs, this thing’s got it in spades. To that end, it also supports native DSD256, just in case you have some digital music encoded in that niche, analog-like format.
The Astell & Kern USB-C Dual-DAC Cable is plug-and-play with almost any device that has a USB Type-C slot, so many Android smartphones and tablets, along with most new computers (including Macs) should be compatible. It’s also compatible with any 3.5mm headphone that has three-pole or four-pole plugs, although the microphone and in-line controllers found on four-pole headphones are not supported. Do note, this thing uses power and doesn’t have its own battery, so it will draw power from whatever device it’s connected to. That means, it will take juice away from your smartphone, so if you’re wary about making your phone’s battery charge last since you won’t have access to a charger in a few hours, you may want to steer clear of using this thing.
It has all-metal enclosures, by the way, so the electronics inside are all duly protected, along with a silver-plated and copper-shielded cable with a central core cut in Technora Aramid fiber for blocking external noise. Suffice to say, this thing is built to hold up to the hazards of daily use, apart from looking downright nice.
The Astell & Kern USB-C Dual-DAC Cable comes out in May, priced at $149.