Astell&Kern launches Bluetooth DAC/amp compatible with consoles and more

2023-10-19 19:08:04

The HB1 is Astell & Kern’s new portable DAC/amp that features a Bluetooth receiver, accepts headphones with a microphone on the cable and is compatible with consoles that use the UAC 1.0 connection, such as the Nintendo Switch and the PlayStation 5. Furthermore, the dongle allows you to change cables and already has two in its box: USB-C to USB-C and USB-C to Lightning, in case you are using an iPhone or iPad.

Astell & Kern HB1 is a Bluetooth DAC/amp compatible with Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 5. Source: Astell & Kern

The Astell & Kern HB1 has a 3.5mm (“traditional”) output and a balanced 4.4mm output. Fortunately, the dongle uses 4 poles (TRRS) instead of three (TRS) in the “traditional” connection. In this case, the fourth pole is used for headphones that have a microphone with a microphone soldered into the cable.

If the user wishes, it is also possible to use the HB1’s integrated microphone, which according to Astell & Kern, “guarantees crystal-clear voice quality and stability thanks to Knowles’ high-quality MEMS microphone technology and the cVc Generation 8.0 call solution from Knowles. Qualcomm with Clear Voice Capture technology, which suppresses ambient noise while delivering clear vocals to the recipient.”

The Astell & Kern HB1 DAC/amp comes with two adapter cables for wide compatibility with a wide range of devices. Source: Astell & Kern

According to Astell & Kern, the HB1 will soon receive the “Roon Tested” certificate, indicating that the DAC/amp has been tested via USB and Bluetooth with the Roon app to ensure “simple setup and effortless daily use.” .

UAC 1.0 and 2.0 support for consoles

As some consoles still use USB Audio Class 1 (UAC1), such as the PlayStation 5 and Nintendo Switch, Astell & Kern decided to bring compatibility to UAC 1.0 and 2.0, allowing the user to use the HB1 in a wider range of devices.

There is no line out mode

No forum Head-Fi a user asked in the thread about HB1 If the DAC/amp would have a “line out” mode, to use it only as a DAC and connect it to an amplifier. Unfortunately the company responded that this feature has not been implemented.

Bluetooth connectivity and supported formats

According to Astell&Kern, the HB1 supports LDAC, aptX HD, AAC and SBC Bluetooth codecs. In addition, the MQA format, which is gradually leaving the Tidal streaming service, is also supported by the dongle, as is native DSD256 music playback. It was also said that the maximum audio file resolution supported by the device is 32-bit/384 kHz.

Real-time LED indicator system to inform the status of the Astell & Kern HB1 DAC/amp. Source: Astell & Kern

AK Control app

Although the Astell & Kern HB1 can be used as a USB Plug & Play device, it is possible to access extra features through the AK Control app, available for Android and iOS (iPhone).

Launch and availability

The Astell & Kern HB1 Bluetooth DAC/amp will launch in November 2023 for $259.

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