Astell&Kern AK HB1 front quarter eye level rotated over white background
Astell&Kern AK HB1 front quarter eye level over white background
Astell&Kern AK HB1 rear quarter eye level over white background
Astell&Kern AK HB1 profile eye level closeup highlighting LEDs and volume knob over white background
Astell&Kern AK HB1 top eye level closeup highlighting headphone ports over white background
Astell&Kern AK HB1 top front three quarter rotated over white background

Astell&Kern AK HB1 | Portable Wired/Wireless Bluetooth DAC/Amp

Regular price$259.00
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Astell&Kern product logo red

Experience True Hi-Fi On-the-Go with Astell&Kern's AK HB1 Hi-Fi USB Bluetooth DAC / Amp

  • USB-C input for Lossless Audio, or LDAC and aptX HD for High-quality Bluetooth sound
  • Interchangeable USB-C and Lightning Cables
  • 3.5mm and 4.4mm Dual Output
  • Supports UAC 1.0 + 2.0 for Gaming
  • Advanced built-in Mic for clear, vivid calls
  • Roon Tested
  • Genuine Astell&Kern HB1 Faux Leather case now available!

AK HB1 front on Canton speaker from Bloom gallery

Bloom's Take

Astell&Kern has a reputation for providing some of the best sound and build quality in the portable space. However, we've always found their reputation for wireless and Bluetooth performance to be lacking. That said, with promises for LDAC and aptX HD over Bluetooth, our interest peaked with some skepticism for the HB1.

HB1 was easy to use with no trouble with any of the functions. Bluetooth pairing, charge mode, USB-DAC mode, etc. all worked as expected. It's worth mentioning the button double-tapping for some functions was a little cumbersome but responsive all the same.

USB-C and Lightning cables are included, and if you connect it to a source that can both charge and play music, charging can be disabled to eliminate noise. Take note: in Bluetooth mode, source device and HB1 volume controls are both active, so be sure to balance the two (USB mode disables source volume.) The AK Connect App is super convenient for managing many of HB1's features. All together, a nice package with solid functionality.

We have to admit A&K's typical premium build and design comes up short: it's a square black box with a volume knob, 3 buttons, and plastic parts. However, sonically, HB1 totally exceeded our expectations. Even using Bluetooth, the sound was clean, spacious, and resolving. HB1 has a neutral, reference tuning loaded with detail and clarity, but also avoids graininess or harshness. Using the USB connection, HB1 had best in class sound, and without careful listening, you don't miss much when you flip it to Bluetooth. While some skimping may have been done on the build, clearly no expense was spared anywhere else.

Read our full review here.


Experience the Freedom of Music

Astell&Kern's AK HB1 is a portable Bluetooth DAC/AMP that lets you effortlessly experience high-quality audio and Hi-Fi streaming services with maximum performance, all without the hassle of cables. Pair your mobile device to the compact, lightweight AK HB1 for seamless, wireless Hi-Fi sound across various IEMs and headphones.

But AK HB1 doesn't stop at Bluetooth. It also delivers that A&K pristine sound quality via USB DAC functionality, offering a seamless connection to gaming devices and immersive entertainment using microphones, turning your mobile device into a hub of multimedia possibilities.

Astell&Kern AK HB1 with connected earphones and Bluetooth-paired iPhone

Premium Bluetooth

AK HB1 is equipped with Qualcomm's CSR8675 Bluetooth chipset, which supports the transmission of high-resolution audio sources via stable connection. From 24-bit/96 kHz LDAC to the very stable 24 bit/48 kHz aptX™ HD codec, AK HB1 accommodates an extensive selection of codecs, including the commonly used AAC and SBC.

AK HB1 also features Bluetooth multi-point capability, allowing connection with up to devices simultaneously. Want to listen to your music from a tablet PC while receiving notifications and calls on your smartphone? AK HB1 has you covered.

Astell&Kern AK HB1 with active Bluetooth LED front 3 quarter over black background

Premium DAC and Amp Design

AK HB1 goes beyond simple Bluetooth playback with full high-resolution sound via USB DAC connection to PCs, smartphones, tablets, and more. Supporting native DSD256 and 32 bit/384 kHz playback, AK HB1 ensures compatibility with a diverse range of high-quality audio sources.

AK HB1 incorporates ESS's ES9281AC PRO DAC for exceptional noise control and ultra-high-quality Hi-Fi performance. Additionally, HB1 introduces an exclusive AMP circuitry that supersedes the standard built-in DAC/AMP. It enables a whopping 4Vrms in Balanced 4.4mm output with 3.5mm unbalanced connection available for flexibility.

Additionally, equipped with a renderer function that supports MQA 8x, AK HB1 enables MQA playback without the need for external DACs or playback devices. By simply connecting AK HB1 via cable to compatible devices which support MQA unfolding, you can enjoy MQA playback through network-enabled apps and streaming services (a compatible S/W core decoder capable of unfolding MQA is required.)

AK HB1 with connected Sennheiser IE600 earphones on wood table

High Compatibility and Support for UAC 1.0 & 2.0 for Gaming

While modern smartphones, tablets and PCs support UAC 2.0 connections, many gaming devices still exclusively support UAC 1.0. To cater to both, AK HB1 ensures compatibility by supporting both UAC 2.0 and UAC 1.0 connections for cross-platform quality sound experiences. Simply connect AK HB1 to your gaming device such as PlayStation and Switch, and enjoy low latency and enhanced sound for an immersive gaming experience.

Astell&Kern AK HB1 thumbnails displaying attached Nintendo Switch, Focal headphones and Bluetooth connection to iPhone

Crystal-clear Voice Calls

AK HB1 ensures crystal-clear voice quality and stability thanks to Knowles's high-quality MEMS microphone technology and Qualcomm's cVc Generation 8.0 call solution with Clear Voice Capture technology, which suppresses ambient noise while delivering clear vocals to the recipient.

Furthermore, AK HB1 incorporates a 4-pole in-line MIC, enabling voice calls via wired earphones. Experience enhanced call quality alongside AK HB1's exceptional Hi-Fi sound.

AK HB1 voice quality diagram highlighting echo noise canceling technology

Additional Features

Easy and Convenient, USB Plug & Play: AK HB1 simplifies the transition between Bluetooth and USB connections by supporting USB PnP functionality.

Seamless Experience with Car Mode: Activate AK HB1's dedicated Car Mode to enjoy high-quality DAC/AMP sound effortlessly while at the wheel.

Dual Noise Shielded Cable: AK HB1 includes a dual shielded, interchangeable cable that readily supports USB Type-C and Lightning. It features a tin-coated copper core to prevent corrosion, and it's finished with a fabric jacket for aesthetic appeal.

Smart Charging System: AK HB1 automatically recognizes devices connected via USB cable, whether playback or charging devices, eliminating the need for additional setting adjustments.

LED Indicators for R/T Status: 2 LEDs positioned on the side give you an overview of the current device status (currently playing file type, battery information, etc.)

Easy Configuration with App: Install the AK Control app to use various functions and enjoy easy setup. Conveniently control Device Priority, Volume Level, User EQ, Car Mode, DAC Filter settings, etc.

Astell&Kern AK HB1 features banner

Specifications

  • Model: AK HB1, Shadow Black
  • DAC: ESS ES9281AC PRO
  • Bluetooth 5.0:
    • Chipset: Qualcomm CSR8675
    • Codecs: LDAC, aptX HD, aptX, AAC, SBC
  • Sample Rate
    • PCM: Support up to 32bit/384kHz
    • DSD Native: DSD64 (1bit 2.8MHz) Stereo | DSD128 (1bit 5.6MHz) Stereo | DSD256 (1bit 11.2MHz) Stereo
    • Roon Ready and MQA support
  • Input: USB-C (for Windows 10, 11, macOS, iOS, Android, & Tablet PC)
  • Output Level (no load): 2Vrms UnBAL | 4Vrms BAL
  • Output: 3.5mm (CTIA standard 4-pole supported), 4.4mm (5-pole only)
  • Weight: 1.4 oz
  • Dimensions: 2.7" x 1.6" x 0.65"
  • Battery
    • Capacity: 600mAh 3.8V Li-Polymer
    • Charge Time: about 1.5 hours
    • Playback Time: about 6 hours (Standard: AAC)
  • Frequency Response @ 20Hz~20kHz: 0.135dB UnBAL | 0.136dB BAL
  • S/NR: 117dB @ 1kHz UnBAL, 118dB @ 1kHz BAL
  • Crosstalk: -112dB @ 1kHz
  • THD+N: 0.0005% @ 1kHz
  • IMD SMPTE: 0.0003% 800Hz 10kHz (4:1)
  • Output Impedance: UnBAL 0.8Ω | BAL 1.8Ω
  • Astell&Kern 1 Year Warranty

AK HB1 and included cables

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