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Astell & Kern Expands High-Resolution Portable Players

LAS VEGAS — Astell & Kern is expanding its selection of high-resolution portable music players with the launch of a model that incorporates Wi-Fi to download music directly from multiple high-resolution download sites.

The flagship AK240 also delivers multiple enhancements over the company’s current four models, including a larger touchscreen, native DSD playback, more internal memory, dual-core processor, AMOLED screen compared to TFT LCD screen, and a more durable housing.

Like its counterparts, the AK240 support 24-bit/192kHz digital audio files and Apple lossless formats in addition to multiple lossy music formats. The other models play back DSD files but only after they have been converted by the player itself to PCM.

The new model ships in the first quarter at a price that will be higher than the current top-end AK120 with a $1,499 suggested retail.

In an effort to make high-resolution downloads easier to access, the new model will connect to high-res music sites via Wi-Fi to purchase and download tracks so that users no longer need to purchase tracks online via computer, then connect a player to side-load the tracks to the player. Support for specific sites will be announced at a later date.

Embedded memory grows to 256GB, compared with 32GB, 64GB and 128GB in current models. The new model also sports a 64GB MicroSD card to bring capacity to 320GB. The current top model features 128GB of embedded memory plus two 64GB MicroSD card slots for a total capacity of 256GB.

The touchscreen grows in size to 3.31 inches and features 800 by 480 resolution, and the material used to build the chassis changes to a stronger lightweight aluminum alloy instead of all aluminum.

In another change, A&K moved to a customized Android OS from Linux.

Like two other A&K models, the new model features two DAC chipsets to deliver a dual-mono setup for clearer channel separation, broader dynamic range and wider soundstage, the company said.

With the addition of the dual Cirrus Logic 4398 DACs, the new model will play native DSD streams without converting them to PCM.