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Astell&Kern To Expand Audiophile MP3-Player Line

IRVINE, CALIF. — Korean supplier iRiver plans to expand its selection of audiophile-oriented MP3 players under the Astell&Kern brand to three models later this year from the current one, the company told TWICE.

The first model, the High Definition AK100, launched late last year at $699, will be joined by one higher-priced model and one lower-priced model, said Own Kwon, North America VP of product and business development. The higher-end model, which will be announced next month, is targeted to ship in the third quarter. The lower-priced model will come sometime later in the year.

All three will support the same codecs as the current model, but Kwon did not disclose additional details.

The current model supports AAC, ALAC (Apple lossless) and AIFF (Apple’s uncompressed PCM) music files along with FLAC, WAV, WMA, MP3, OGG and APE files.

More important for audiophiles, the device supports 24-bit/192kHz FLAC and WAV files, which are not supported by Apple or Android mobile devices, Kwon said. Such files, called Mastering Quality Sound (MQS) files, are music files saved as a lossless format straight from the studio mastering source. provides albums encoded with Mastering Quality Sound from every major label, iRiver noted. HDtracks also offers AIFF and FLAC lossless files and 320Kbps MP3 files.

The AK100 can also be used as an outboard DAC thanks to its optical digital input and optical digital output, he said

The brushed-aluminum portable features a Wolfson WM8740 digital-to-analog converter (DAC). Its 32GB of internal memory can be expanded via two MicroSD card slots, each supporting an additional 32GB MicroSD card. A 2,000mAH battery provides up to 16 hours of playback on a single charge. The device also offers 150-step analog volume-control knob, MicroUSB connection, and 2.4-inch QVGA touchscreen display that lets users control a five-band graphic EQ.

iRiver’s product lines include portable media players, e-readers, tablets and VoIP phones.