Astell & Kern's first portable headphone amplifier promises "natural" analogue sound

Astell & Kern PA10 portable headphone amplifier
(Image credit: Astell&Kern)

Astell & Kern is best known for its high-end portable music players, but now it's announced its first portable headphone amplifier. The PA10 uses the South Korean firm's Teraton Alpha tech as well as Class A amplification to drive your headphones.

A&K's PMPs have generally scored very well in our reviews (like the recent Award-winning A&norma SR25 MkII), so we're excited to see what its first portable headphone amp can do. The company makes some bold claims – it says the PA10 "generates natural, spacious and distortion-free analogue sound" and that it delivers a "warm, detailed and refined sound".

It also says that it has used its expertise in amplifier circuit design to reduce the PA10's power consumption while increasing its output and eliminating distortions and defects.

Teraton Alpha has been years in the making. It uses power noise removal, efficient power management and unwavering amplification to produce a sound quality that's as close as possible to the original recording.

Astell & Kern PA10 portable headphone amplifier

(Image credit: Astell & Kern)

The PA10 also controls the current to suit different pairs of headphones and in-ear monitors. Astell & Kern claims this makes for a more intensive, spatial sound.

It supports 4.4mm True Balanced input/output, and its crossfeed function uses exclusively hardware circuit design, not digital software. This is supposed to offer a more seamless crossfeed effect without degrading the audio.

Visually, the PA10 shares a lot in common with Astell & Kern's PMPs – muscular, is how we would describe its design language, with its octagonal pillar-shaped body made from aluminium.

Interested? The PA10 is available now for £549 / $550 / AU$899.

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Joe has been writing about tech for 17 years, first on staff at T3 magazine, then in a freelance capacity for Stuff, The Sunday Times Travel Magazine, Men's Health, GQ, The Mirror, Trusted Reviews, TechRadar and many more (including What Hi-Fi?). His specialities include all things mobile, headphones and speakers that he can't justifying spending money on.