South Korean audio specialist Astell & Kern is best-known for its catalogue of premium portable high-res music players, but the firm also produces a wide selection of consumer hi-fi products, including headphones – and the AK Zero1 is its latest wired in-ear proposition.
Featuring three different types of driver per earpiece, the new AK Zero1 promise a "ground-breaking hybrid sound" and while the company's most recent AK Solaris X earphones were a collaborative effort with Oregon IEM outfit Campfire Audio, these in-ears are 100 per cent A&K.
Digging down into the specs a little, the AK Zero1's unique configuration comprises a specially developed micro rectangular planar dynamic driver (difficult to scale down for an in-ear monitor) and vibration panel boasting a high-polymer and thin metal film; dual balanced armature (BA) drivers using custom-designed coils for midrange and vocal frequencies, plus a single 5.6mm dynamic driver to handle the low end.
You're also getting Astell & Kern's precision crossover network design (where each driver is carefully placed in the optimal position and enclosed in specifically designed acoustic chambers manufactured with 3D printing technology), CNC-machined metal housing and hi-fi-grade OFC cable crafted with high-purity silver plating and copper, alongside aluminum plugs in a bid to maintain transparency of the audio signal.
Elsewhere, the MMCX connectors promise a prime-quality connection between the ear housing and cable, and there's an optional 4.4mm MMCX cable accessory: the PEP11.
Visually, Astell & Kern’s trademark bold, brutalist diagonal design language continues on the AK Zero1, with the housings sporting premium reflective cut metal surfaces – potentially an ideal companion for your A&K player, then.
To further ensure a snug fit, the slender ear nozzles come with five different-sized pairs of silicone ear tips, and one set of foam. Finally, to keep them pristine during transit, you also get a carry case.
The Astell & Kern AK Zero1 is priced £649 / $699 / AU$999 €749 and will be available in November from Astell & Kern and local independent dealers.
The Astell & Kern PEP11 is priced £119 / $130 / AU$189 €139 and will also be available from November.
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